A seventh place finish last Sunday on the Gold Coast has been greeted with relief by Lee Holdsworth and Preston Hire Racing team owner Charlie Schwerkolt.
The rookie team has a had a horror debut season, which has included serious injuries for Holdsworth and the unexpected expense for Schwerkolt of having to buy a brand new Triple Eight Holden Commodore out of the same disastrous Darwin crash.
But since returning to the cockpit for the Pirtek Enduro Cup with co-driver Karl Reindler, Holdsworth has endured a horror run.
He completed only two laps in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 because of an engine issue and then missed out on a drive on Saturday at the Castrol Gold Coast 600 after Reindler tagged the wall during his opening stint.
“It’s just a feeling of relief, just absolute relief,” Holdsworth told supercars.com on Sunday evening.
“I am just stoked for the team, they have been working so hard and we haven’t had any results to reward them for their hard work. So this is a small reward for a really hard period of the year.
“I just pray this is the start of a really good period for our team.”
Holdsworth said he simply felt “numb” after Reindler’s Saturday crash.
“I just went ‘oh well we have another day tomorrow’. You can’t dwell on these things.
“If there is one thing I have learned out of all this is you can’t change the past, you can only change the future and that’s the focus, just keep looking forward.”
The way the strategy fell on Sunday Holdsworth had to sit in the pits waiting for his chance as Reindler completed the majority of the laps, driving the car forward from 12th on the grid well into the top 10.
“I was so nervous; I reckon my heart rate was higher standing here in the pits than out on the track.
“Karl did a really job today, he was also doing a fantastic job yesterday but a small mistake is very costly around here. He put it all together today and we got a half-decent result.
“So hopefully it’s onwards and upwards from here."
Schwerkolt said simply finishing a race was “great”.
“I was starting to think Lee was being paid to do no laps anymore. I buggered up his contract I think.
“It’s really, really good to get this under our belt. It’s a great team, good car.
“It has been a tough time of late. At Sandown we got tangled up with a lapped car unfortunately. But Bathurst was just a disaster, we had people flying in from everywhere and it just wrecks you because you are trying to perform for all the partners on the car. We were gutted by that.”
“Saturday wasn’t unlucky it was just a stuff-up from Karl. It was a rare mistake. I feel so much better that we have bounced back today, even a seventh is fantastic.
“Lee loves these street circuits and Karl did a lot of laps and a fantastic job today.
“You can feel a really good vibe around the place and we can build slowly, slowly on this. It is a long journey.”
The result is a great warm-up for the November 4-6 ITM Auckland SuperSprint which comprises four 100km sprint races without pit stops. As has been previously reported, PHR has been sharing a boom with Team CoolDrive this year and the two crews have struggled to gel in pitlane.
“Can’t wait for no pit stops, we will be totally in control of our own destiny,” said Schwerkolt. “Get Lee to qualify well there and we should have a good showing.
"The Triple Eight cars are good there so that will be good.”
Holdsworth echoed Schwerkolt’s thoughts: “I have been looking forward to that one for a long time. We need to find a little bit but we have a top 10 car at the moment.
“We need to make a few tweaks to get it on to the podium but as long we start finishing some races we can start getting the data to start working on making it a quicker car.”