For the first time since February’s Bathurst 500, Erebus Academy drivers Bailey Sweeny, Jobe Stewart, Harry Gray and Holly Espray were reunited on track for last weekend’s Sydney SuperNight.
The event saw mixed results for the young drivers, with many of Saturday’s positive results heavily impacted by Sunday’s wild weather.
After a career best qualifying on Saturday, Stewart drove through the wet conditions and picked up his first podium of his Toyota 86 career.
“To get my first podium was great, even though it was slow across the line with the safety car, you still get that same feeling,” Stewart said.
“I started the race fifth and although there were only two laps of actual racing after all the safety cars, I still managed to gain two positions in those laps.”
Sweeny was also pleased with his overall performance after qualifying in the top five and securing a fourth place finish on Saturday.
“Going back to SMSP after seeing some good results last month and being able to qualify back up the front again was a great feeling,” Sweeny said.
“Although Sunday’s races didn’t quite go to plan, I learnt a lot from the experience in the rain and there were still a lot of positives to come out of the weekend.”
A late-race spin in Race 2 on Sunday saw Sweeny forced to the back of the field, though the 18-year-old managed to still move from P23 to P16 in the rain-drenched final race.
Heavy rain resulted in poor visibility and a slippery track for the junior drivers, with all drivers racing in the wet for the first time.
Gray made some initial gains in the rainy conditions, placing as high as 9th after qualifying just outside the top ten, though an excursion onto the grass in Race 3 saw him cross the line in 24th.
“I had previously done a test day in an 86 in the rain at Sydney but I struggled so my confidence levels were pretty low going into Sunday’s races,” Gray said.
“I made some gains in race two and had moved up to 7th by race three before I ran myself off the track.
“I didn’t mind racing in the rain, the team had a really good wet set up. I would be quite excited by another wet race.”
Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Espray who after a difficult qualifying session on Saturday saw a highest result of 20th across the weekend.
“I had some ongoing car issues in practice and qualifying that also popped up in race one but once we figured those out, I was really confident for day two,” Espray said.
“I was hoping to get a good result and move through the pack but then the rain came which kind of ruined it.
“Driving in those kinds of conditions was even harder than I was expecting, you can’t see anything. It was like a big white blanket.”
Each of the drivers will be back on track for the season finale at Bathurst, November 30 – December 5.