Third place in the Vodafone Gold Coast 600 finale was precisely the morale boost Penrite Racing and Luke Youlden needed after a torrid start to the PIRTEK Enduro Cup.
Youlden is one of the field’s most experienced co-drivers and won the 2017 Bathurst 1000 with Dave Reynolds, but has endured a bumpy 2019 campaign.
The 41-year-old crashed on the first day of practice at Bathurst before making multiple errors in a difficult Great Race.
He then damaged the front splitter of the #9 Holden in the Saturday Gold Coast race, with repairs putting them three laps down.
Youlden, however, dug deep to be mistake-free on Sunday at Surfers Paradise.
He blazed by Alex Davison at the race start and held third from there, where an unwell Reynolds would bring the car home.
Youlden dropped 15 seconds to Red Bull’s star co-drivers Garth Tander and Craig Lowndes during his stint, but drove a steady pace, under instruction from Erebus CEO Barry Ryan.
“I really needed it to be honest,” said Youlden.
“My confidence took a bit of a battering at Bathurst and also yesterday.
“I feel like I’m driving OK, just things haven’t gone too well for me.
“I had Barry’s voice in my head the whole race, no kerb strikes and just try to keep it clean.
“I could go faster but I just tried to do my best to not make any mistakes. I just needed a mistake-free run.”
Youlden was relieved to be back to his old self and credited the team’s resilience for turning things around.
“Obviously we got a result [fifth] at Bathurst but it was more probably strategy than anything else so it’s fair to say morale in the team hasn’t been that flash the last couple of rounds,” he said.
“Everyone is a human being in the team and obviously no one tries to make mistakes.
“You have just got to bounce back and I think this is a good bounce-back for the team.
“We really needed it.”
The result saw Reynolds leapfrog the sidelined Chaz Mostert into fifth in the championship – the first time he has sat inside the top five since July.