Chaz Mostert admitted he felt a bit like a ‘nervous teenager’ when fending off a charging Jamie Whincup to score a confidence boosting first podium of the season in Race 20.
Prior to today’s race Mostert had endured barren run of top three finishes that stretched back to October last year and has coincided with a dismal 2018 campaign.
After glimpses of podium pace in Saturday’s race, the 26-year-old duly delivered with a strong drive to convert third on the grid into the final place on the podium.
Mostert pressured the leaders Shane van Gisbergen (Red Bull Holden Racing Team) and Scott McLaughlin (Shell V-Power Racing) at the start and end of the race, but the final laps proved to be a nervous affair.
Whincup reeled in Mostert as the laps ticked by before heaping pressure on the Tickford Racing driver but the latter was just able to hang on by little more than a tenth of a second.
Relieved to end his podium drought, the 2014 Bathurst 1000 winner was glad to hold his nerve considering he hadn’t been put under such pressure for some time.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been under that type of pressure, definitely when there’s a trophy on the line,” said Mostert.
“So for me it was pretty exciting to have a crack. I probably used my tyre a lot.
“The car felt really good in that last stint from start to mid-stint, so I used the tyre a lot and caught up to these guys a fair bit but once I got close enough to them, started hitting that cliff.
“I think that’s what really dragged me back to Jamie. In the mirrors he looked like he was driving quite smooth and looking after his tyres and me a little bit of a nervous teenager type thing at the wheel going for third place and just trying to hang on.
“It was very exciting to me, I’m glad to hang on to it.”
Speaking directly after the race Mostert likened the feeling of a podium to a victory given the lack of success and struggles he has encountered this year.
“It’s unbelievable. To get third, it feels like we’ve won the race,” he added.
“It’s been a real tough year so to get a trophy at least gets the monkey off the back for the year.
“Yesterday to get a sixth it means that we just didn’t luck it yesterday, that we purely had some car pace this weekend.
“It’s a good confidence boost for our team, we’ve obviously had a really, really tough year and I think only this result today can build some good team morale and move on to the next event.”
Mostert was the star performer from a another difficult day for the Tickford squad that saw its entries for Cameron Waters, Richie Stanaway and Mark Winterbottom finish 17th, 18th and 26th respectively.
Winterbottom’s day was hampered by an opening lap incident that saw him facing the wrong direction at Turn 4 after contact from James Courtney, triggered by Scott Pye.
While the podium is a morale booster for the team, Mostert is refusing to get carried away with the result in regard to it being a turning point for the team.
“I don’t want to talk too much into it because is the car quick enough to keep getting these results? Only results will speak for that,” he added.
“Next round, (we need to) keep the same mindset, keep trying to work on our car and I think there were still some things we could definitely work on.”
Mostert is now occupying eighth in the standings ahead of the Red Rooster Sydney SuperNight 300 from August 3-4.