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Holdsworth has ‘a fast and reliable hand’ in Caruso

Simon Chapman

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Tuesday 13th October, 2020 - 4:30pm

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Lee Holdsworth

Lee Holdsworth says he has “a fast and reliable hand” in co-driver Michael Caruso as they look to strike success again at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

The last time the pair drove together in the 2009 Bathurst 1000, they stood on the podium; a feat the pair are keen to replicate this weekend.

For the pair, it remains their only podium performances in the race to date.

Like most co-drivers, Caruso has largely been on the sidelines this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Holdsworth said that isn’t playing on his mind, knowing that they’ve had success together in the past.

“I suppose it gives you a fair bit of confidence that we were such a strong combo, and now given that we’ve got so many more years of experience behind us at The Mountain, a lot more laps, I think we should be even stronger,” said Holdsworth.

“We just have to play by year. And first things first, we need a fast race car. We need a reliable race car and then a couple of cool heads in the race, which will go a long way to getting us in contention at the end.

“This year is the year that you want a fast and reliable hand and I’ve got that in Caruso. We enjoy each other’s company, we get on well. I think I’ll go into the race fairly relaxed and we’ll enjoy ourselves and everything will pay off come the race.”

It’s been 11 years since the pair took the Garry Rogers Motorsport #34 Holden VE Commodore to third place in the Great Race.

That year the crown jewel event was won by Holden Racing Team duo Garth Tander and Will Davison who beat Jason Richards and Cameron McConville.

Not far behind the battle for the lead, the fight for the final place on the podium was an enthralling encounter.

In his sixth start, Holdsworth fought in the dying laps of the race with four-time Bathurst 1000 winner Greg Murphy who that year was paired with Mark Skaife

A mere 0.0042s split Holdsworth and the trailing Murphy who finished side-by-side at the chequered flag.

Recounting the race, Holdsworth said the battle was one he looks back on with great pride.

“I think that was the best thing about that race for me was being able to hold off Murph,” Holdsworth told Speedcafe.com.

“Two of the legends of the sport and two guys (Murphy and Skaife) that I’ve idolised growing up. They were really on for a race win, they had so much speed.

“I remember getting out of the car absolutely knackered after four laps in a row holding him off, running the white lines, trying to try to defend on him.

“It was a pretty proud achievement, more so than the podium itself, to be able to hold Murph off.

“He’s the God of that track really, apart from Brocky, with the lap of the Gods and all that. He’s one guy that I’ve always looked up to.

“I remember early in the race, Caruso had a bit of a moment up over the top and we nearly went down a lap, but we had such good car speed. Both of us pulled back that lap and put us in contention for the podium.”

For team-mate Caruso, it was a similarly nervous final few laps from the sidelines in the Garry Rogers Motorsport garage.

“We had a great weekend to be completely honest,” Caruso recalled of the 2009 race.

“Lee did a great job in qualifying. We started the race third. We had that moment at the top of the hill and got away with that and put ourselves into a position where we could fight for a podium.

“At the end of the day, that’s what you want to do when you get to The Mountain.

“To hold off Murph and Skaifey in that car, you’re talking about two of the icons of the sport, was pretty surreal. I have a lot of respect for those blokes.”

The Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama will take place on October 15-18.

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