With a break between Winton and Darwin, supercars.com is analysing the drivers’ results and performances in this first part of the season. The racing is the closest in history, with nine different winners in 11 races.
Lee Holdsworth, Preston Hire Racing Engineer: Jason Bush
Average qualifying position: 12.7 Average finishing position: 16.4 Championship position: 19 Points to leader: 535 Wins: 0 Pole positions: 0
Best result: Fourth place qualifying, Tasmania Saturday.
Low point: DNF Winton
For: We’re watching the likeable Holdsworth rebuild his career in front of our eyes. He has admitted his experiences at Erebus and Walkinshaw Racing damaged his self-confidence, and to drive one of these big, difficult Supercars at the limit requires extraordinary self-belief as well as lots of talent. So far in 2016 the indications are Charlie Schwerkolt’s decision to build his own team around Holdsworth and a Triple Eight Commodore is delivering the stability and security he needs to extract top speed. He has now qualified in the top 10 three times and the top 15 seven times, which is promising. While fourth place qualifying in Tassie has been the best effort so far, he was also the fastest T8 car in Saturday qualifying at Winton. Holdsworth has also shown maturity by not crashing, something that would stretch the team’s limited resources.
Against: Holdsworth is not delivering the race results his flashes of qualifying pace indicate he should. Issues with slow pit stops – in a year where they are more crucial than ever – are well known and there are plans to rectify that. But Holdsworth’s starts haven’t been great either so there is work to be done there too. Holdsworth and new engineer Bush not only need to forge a relationship but better understand their car as well, as neither has raced a T8 Commodore before.
The team: Preston Hire Racing has been built from scratch, but features some really good names with strong pedigrees; former HRT boss Jeff Grech is team manager, engineer Jason Bush is also ex-Clayton, crew chief Andy Atkins comes from Triple Eight via Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport and Janelle Navarro is head mechanic. The pit stops are something that will require the co-operation of Brad Jones Racing, because the boom is shared with Tim Blanchard’s CoolDrive Commodore.
Rating: C There’s a podium in this car and driver at some point this year.