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Holdsworth’s last hurrah delivers the goods

LEE Holdsworth bowed out from full-time Supercars racing in style, rescuing Grove Racing from last-minute disappointment in the teams’ championship.

Grove Racing faced a very real danger of being usurped by Erebus Motorsport for fifth in the standings, which is used to determine the following season’s pitlane order, when David Reynolds was sent spinning by Will Davison with just 28 laps remaining in the season.

But it was Holdsworth’s recovery drive from 22nd on the grid that proved the saving grace, scything his way through to ninth to help the Groves hang on by a meagre 10 points.

The Ford squad will be the biggest movers up pitlane in 2023, gaining four garage spaces (passing Erebus, Team 18 and two lots of Brad Jones Racing).

Immediately post-race, Holdsworth cut a satisfied figure, even if he admitted to being unsure exactly how to feel now that his retirement from full-time racing is official.

“I’m just happy to finish on a bit of a high,” the 39-year-old told V8 Sleuth.

“We had a bad qualifying and fought our way through, I think we made up 13 positions – and the main goal for the weekend was to beat Erebus in the championship to finish fifth.

“It was great to do a burnout there at the end, it’s been a while since I have done one of them, so I really enjoyed that, and celebrating with a great bunch of people here at Penrite Racing.

“I’ve enjoyed my last year full-time and I’m looking forward to the future but I’m going to celebrate.

David Reynolds, Stephen Grove and Lee Holdsworth take part in some pre-event fun. Pic: Supplied

“It was pretty special to have (wife) Alana here and a couple of my really good mates and I had people from work here from my other job.

“I think the team were over the moon to come home with achieving that goal of fifth in the championship, so I feel like I served my purpose here at this team and I’ve helped them to be in a better position down pitlane.

“I’m happy that I have been able to contribute.”

Holdsworth did actually start the final lap of his full-time career in seventh place, but had a small excursion while trying to defend against Shane van Gisbergen and also lost position to Brodie Kostecki.

The Grove leadership had considered telling Holdsworth to let van Gisbergen by to minimise any teams’ championship risk but decided against such an instruction given the occasion.

“I was disappointed, I was running seventh on the last lap and Shane got me,” Holdsworth said.

“I was sort of on the dirty line there for a while so I ended up going straight ahead which was the reason why Brodie also got me, so it was a bit disappointing, I probably should have only lost one on the last lap.

“But still to finish P9 after starting 22nd, it was an enjoyable drive, a lot of passing.

“One of the more enjoyable races of my career to be honest, so I suppose I can be happy finishing my career on a bit of a high.”

Rookie Matt Payne will replace Holdsworth next year, driving a #19 Penrite Gen3 Mustang.

Holdsworth meanwhile is set to reunite with Chaz Mostert, returning to co-driving duties at Walkinshaw Andretti United.

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