WHEN Lee Holdsworth’s career took a turn for the worse, he spoke about wanting to go out on his own terms.
Now that that opportunity has come, he’s lapping up every moment.
It’s been an often frustrating final full-time Supercars season for Holdsworth, plagued by qualifying struggles, but the pressure valve has been released since his post-Sandown retirement announcement.
The 39-year-old mastered torrential conditions at Mount Panorama earlier this month to put his #10 Penrite Mustang on the front row for race day.
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From there, he blazed into the lead; him and co-driver Matt Payne finishing sixth at the end of a solid 161 laps.
“To qualify P2 was just awesome, starting off the front row, got a good start. There’s plenty of memories I’ll take away from my last time as a main driver,” Holdsworth told V8 Sleuth.
“It was really cool to lead the race and gap the field. It sort of felt a little bit like last year actually off the start. I just enjoyed that part of it.
“I was a bit frustrated towards the end, just lacking the pace, but in the end I think P6 was something we should all be pretty proud of.”
More broadly, the farewell tour is treating Holdsworth kindly.
“I’m still really pleased that I made that decision,” he said.
“It has been cool to speak to the fans and there has been a lot of nice comments from fans which has been cool. You sort of don’t realise how many fans you have got until you say that you’re retiring.
“I will be back in the future at (Bathurst) but I’ll definitely enjoy the last two events (of the year at Gold Coast and Adelaide).
“I think it is probably going to hit me at the last round when I line up for that grid one last time.
“I think that’s when I’ll probably look back and go wow, this really is the end of my full-time career after 18 years or whatever it is.”
Across the Repco Bathurst 1000, Holdsworth also got the unique opportunity to work closely with his future successor in Payne.
“I was impressed with the way that he takes onboard our feedback and my advice and everything like that,” Holdsworth said of Payne.
“He was really mature and didn’t put a foot wrong all weekend, unlike a lot of the young guys.
“He played it smart, listened to us. I felt like we might have had to manage him more than we did so it was fantastic to see how much he has grown over the last 12 months and I suppose it shows.
“He mixed it with some of the main guys as well, so for him that’s pretty confidence-inspiring going into next year as a full-time driver.
“I think that he has got a big future.”
Holdsworth has been linked with a move back to co-driving at Walkinshaw Andretti United in 2023, although there has been no such confirmation as yet.