Holdsworth to retire from full-time Supercars driving

Lee Holdsworth

Lee Holdsworth and Penrite Racing have announced the veteran’s impending retirement from full-time Supercars competition.

The 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000 winner will hang up the helmet at the end of the current season, although he will seek out another co-driver role for 2023.

Holdsworth’s step away from a full-time ride at Grove Racing is not particularly surprising, given its Dunlop Super2 Series driver Matt Payne is set to be promoted to the Repco Supercars Championship, although he had seemingly been in the mix for other drives next year.

However, the 39-year-old cited a desire to spend more time with family and his future career in real estate as the reason for his decision.

“A big thank you to the people who have followed me, backed me and supported me over my many years in the sport,” he said.

“My fans, my sponsors, my friends, my family. And thank you to the teams and crews with whom I have worked and shared so many memorable experiences.

“I particularly want to thank Rob Smith and Garry Rogers for having the faith to give me a start in the sport I love so much and which has contributed so much to my life.

“I will leave my full-time role in the sport proud of my approach and resilience. I’m also humbled by the countless number of friends I have made along the way, on the track, off the track and away from the track.

“The 500-plus Supercars races I’ve contested have brought victories and podiums across three different manufacturers, including winning the Bathurst 1000 which was the pinnacle of my time in the sport.

“For the remainder of 2022, I am committed to delivering the best results for the team and its partners, as well as for the dedicated staff and crew who pour their hearts and souls into the team.

“Thank you to the Grove family. I’ve enjoyed contributing to and being part of the Penrite/Grove team this year. It’s not over yet.”

In what is something of a handing over of the baton, Holdsworth will share the #10 Ford Mustang with Payne in this year’s Bathurst 1000.

Team owner Stephen Grove paid tribute to the Melburnian, who joined the squad this year as Payne continued to cut his teeth in Super2.

“Once the opportunity presented itself to have Lee in Grove Racing to help facilitate our development in 2022, we quickly moved to secure his experience,” said Grove.

“He’s genuinely a racer at heart and I am looking forward to him working with Matt Payne for the Bathurst 1000.

“I’d love to see him keep driving but understand the direction he wants to go at this stage in his life.

“His experience has been a real asset to the team this year as we continue to grow.

“We now want to focus on giving him the best possible package to go out on the high that he deserves in his full-time career.”

Holdsworth made his debut in the 2004 Sandown 500 with the Smiths Trucks Racing team and became an enduro driver for Garry Rogers Motorsport in the following season.

That progressed to a seat of his own in 2006 and a maiden Supercars Championship race win at a wet Oran Park in 2007.

Holdsworth would win again on the final day of the 2010 season at Sydney Olympic Park before a move in 2012 to Stone Brothers Racing, which morphed into Erebus Motorsport in 2013.

Results were thin on the ground during Erebus’s Mercedes-Benz era, but the Victorian does have the honour of the E63 AMG’s first Supercars victory, at Winton in 2014.

He would leave for Team 18 in the next season, the start of a tough, four-year spell during which time Holdsworth suffered fractures to his right knee and ribs in a crash at Hidden Valley in 2016.

A switch to Tickford Racing saw his struggles continue as he came to grips with the Mustang, before a mid-season turnaround and a podium late in the campaign in the Sandown 500.

Dropped at the end of 2020 to make way for Thomas Randle, he landed at Walkinshaw Andretti United as co-driver to Chaz Mostert in the #25 Mobil 1 Appliances Online entry and, but for a mid-race tyre failure, they dominated the Bathurst 1000.

WAU then opted to release Holdsworth from the second year of his contract in order to facilitate his move to Grove, with still only 19-year-old Payne left in the Super2 Series for another year.

Although not yet confirmed, it is likely that David Reynolds will stay on at the squad next year, making for a mixture of youth and experience at Braeside.

The 2022 Supercars Championship continues on September 9-11 at Pukekohe with the ITM Auckland SuperSprint, Holdsworth’s fourth-last event as a full-time driver.

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