Lee Holdsworth has foreshadowed a ‘back to basics’ approach this weekend as Preston Hire Racing attempts to recapture form at one of its better circuits of 2017.
Holdsworth described his and the team’s season to date as a ‘shocker’ since leaving the opening event in Adelaide.
The 35-year-old qualified 10th and 13th for the two races in the South Australian capital and went on to finish 12th and 24th, the latter result due to a broken exhaust header pipe.
He has only once qualified better than either of those efforts in the 12 races since, 12th in Armor All Qualifying for Race 7 at Symmons Plains, and outside the top 20 on five occasions.
Unsurprisingly, Race 7 also yielded a season-best finish of 11th, but Holdsworth’s next-best result in any of the last 10 races has been 18th (Race 12, Barbagallo).
By contrast, Hidden Valley was the scene of one of Team 18’s better performances of last year, when Holdsworth finished 10th and 12th in the two races.
The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship veteran says that Preston Hire Racing will fall back on that showing 12 months ago in an attempt to better understand their package.
“It’s been a shocker so far,” said Holdsworth of his season on Fox Sports’ Supercars Trackside.
“We haven’t had the pace, we haven’t had the consistency.
“We started off the year quite well but since then we’ve gone a full circle with development and the way we’ve gone about it with the philosophy of the car, to now coming back to this round, and knowing we had a quick car last year, we’ve really had to go back to basics.
“We really hope that gets us back in the window, and then basically start from step one again with our development. Hopefully we can kick off our year here.”
Most teams used the break between the last event at Winton and the CrownBet Darwin Triple Crown as an opportunity to take a test day after racing almost every other weekend since the start of the season.
Preston Hire Racing was among those to do so but effectively lost a test day when Pirtek Enduro Cup co-driver Matt Brabham lost control and hit the wall at Turn 4 at Winton Motor Raceway, causing chassis damage.
Holdsworth noted the consequences of the incident but said that the four-week break between rounds, the longest of the season, still gave the team some chance to regroup since the Winton SuperSprint.
“We really wanted to answer a few questions at the test day and had Matty Brabham there, who obviously hasn’t done a lot of laps in V8s, so early in the morning he dropped a wheel at Turn 4 and he was in the fence there so our day ended very early and unfortunately with no answers,” he explained.
“But being a long break, we have had time to really reflect on the year and analyse what we’ve been through so far and hopefully the decisions that we’ve made now have put us back to where we need to be.
“It was enough damage to be in the fab shop for a week and did a rail and those cars are fairly expensive at the rear and pretty complex as well but it’s nothing our guys couldn’t fix up at Preston Hire Racing and they’ve got me a straight car for this weekend.”
Practice 1 at the CrownBet Darwin Triple Crown starts at 1200 local time/1230 AEST.