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‘Baby steps’ give Golding Bathurst breakthrough

THE biggest moment of James Golding’s Supercars career is scheduled for late on Saturday afternoon at Mount Panorama.

Golding, 27, clocked the second-fastest time in Friday qualifying at the Repco Bathurst 1000, ensuring he’ll be the penultimate runner in the fabled Top 10 Shootout.

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The PremiAir Racing driver’s first appearance in the Bathurst Shootout comes in his eighth Great Race start and fourth as a primary pilot.

“It’s been something I’ve been really close to – getting into the Top 10 Shootout at Bathurst – a few times,” said Golding, who shares the #31 Camaro with Dylan O’Keeffe.

“I was chatting to Dylan about it earlier and he said ‘yeah, but this time you’re well up there, it’s not like you just got in’.

“It’s certainly cool, really looking forward to having the Mountain to myself tomorrow for a lap, I’ve just got to try and enjoy it.”

James Golding and Dylan O’Keeffe. Pic: Supplied/Mark Horsburgh

It’s been a challenging season for PremiAir.

The team, which Golding joined midway through its maiden season in 2022, had hoped to capitalise on the move to the tightly controlled Gen3 platform.

It invested in turn-key cars from Triple Eight and blasted out of the blocks at the Newcastle season-opener, where Golding qualified third for the Sunday race.

But fast-forward seven months and PremiAir is the only multi-car squad yet to score a podium. Golding sits 15th in the championship, two places behind teammate Tim Slade.

Asked what’s clicked this weekend, Golding said: “I’ve always enjoyed driving around this track, like everyone else.

“We’ve just been making baby steps as a team this year, it hasn’t been easy, and I think it’s just come down to all the hard work and not giving up.

“We’re still building and I think we’re starting to really find our groove now.

“It’s just about focusing on our job, tick our own boxes and if we do a good job ourselves, we’re going to be up the front on Sunday.”

Carrera Cup regular O’Keeffe was 16th fastest in co-driver practice on Thursday and is also pleased with how the weekend is unfolding.

“To have that continuity with Jimmy from last year has really helped,” said O’Keeffe, who endured a tough run alongside Golding to 15th at the Sandown 500.

“This year I’ve slotted straight back in and feeling comfortable. I think this track is suiting our car and driving style.

“We put Sandown behind us, a new weekend, and I think we are both pretty eager to get a solid result come Sunday.”

The second PremiAir Camaro of Slade and Jonathon Webb will start the Great Race from 18th.

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