Preston Hire Racing have kicked the Endurance Series off with a display of the team’s true potential at the Wilson Security Sandown 500 for Round 10 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
Driver Lee Holdsworth and Co-Driver Karl Reindler kicked off the Retro Round with 3 practice sessions on Friday.
Session 1 saw Holdsworth take the reigns for a 30 minute session on one of his favourite circuits and was P20 at the conclusion.
Session 2 & 3 were Co-Drivers only, where Reindler finished P19 and P16 respectively and impressed Team Manager Jeff Grech.
“The sessions were good, we had the opportunity to try a lot of stuff with some success. We were looking for a race setup, it’s a soft tyre this year so we are tuning the car so that tyres are good at the beginning and end and we are pleased with Karl’s pace,” Grech said.
The Preston Hire Racing team shot to P3 in Saturday’s final Practice on old softs, but fell back to P16 when the field switched to greens.
The Sandown 500’s Qualifying process sees the main driver claim a position through regular time trial, followed by two twenty lap qualifying races alternating drivers to determine the race start position.
Holdsworth finished P23 in the first Qualifying session, after Team Owner Charlie Schwerkolt revealed a struggle with new tyres that lacked grip.
“Lee wasn’t happy with the car, the new tyres weren’t giving him the grip level that he needed,” Schwerkolt said.
In Qualifying Race 1, Reindler jumped from P23 to P14, the most spots out of anyone on the field.
“Karl did a great job, stayed out of trouble and picked off a few cars which is great. We knew we’d have a good race car and his pace towards the end was really strong,” Holdsworth said.
Qualifying Race 2 saw Holdsworth finish the final stint in P15, setting the duo up for a mid field start on Sunday.
Holdsworth and Reindler practiced the driver changes in a 20-minutes warm up session on Sunday, where the duo clocked the 9th fastest time in the field.
Race 20 was originally a 161 Lap Race, but time constraints following a red flag at the beginning of the session cut the distance to 143 Laps.
Reindler piloted the Preston Hire Racing Car for 54 Laps before swapping with Holdsworth.
“Really happy with my first stint, out there on dry tyres in the wet and wet tyres in the dry so it was quite tricky and challenging. We progressed a little and the car was good balance wise and wasn’t doing anything fundamentally wrong,” Reindler said.
The team finished just outside the Top 10 in P12, and although the car had the race pace to finish top 5 a mid-race hit on Holdsworth damaged the steering.
“Karl handed the car over in a good position, it was quick in the wet for me but I had to manage the damage from a lapped car in the second stint,” Holdsworth said.
“To come home in P12 wasn’t exactly what we deserve and we showed really great speed throughout the race. We have a great race car so now we just have to work on the qualifying speed to put us on the front line and bring on Bathurst.”
Preston Hire Racing will now return to their Melbourne Headquarters to prepare for the next Endurance Round at the Bathurst 1000 from 6-9 October.