Although missing out on a number of rounds due to border restrictions, Jobe Stewart came back strong and finished his 2021 Toyota 86 campaign on a high, even securing his first podium in the category.
How would you rate your season out of 10 and why?
JS: I’d say probably a 7. At the start, it wasn’t looking too good after that first round at Bathurst where we crashed in the opening race and we also missed out on a couple of rounds due to COVID restrictions. But coming back for the last two rounds, my results turned around completely and really changed how I felt about the season.
You came back really strong after missing a couple of rounds, what do you think that came down to?
JS: After having so much time away, I was really eager to get back into it. As soon as I got back into racing, I was straight on it and wanted to make up for the time I missed. I had the mentality of going back into it and trying as hard as I could, there wasn’t a championship or anything on the line so I really just wanted to have a crack.
You definitely had a crack and managed to secure your first podium this season, how did that feel?
JS: It was great because coming off of Bathurst at the start of the year, we were feeling pretty down. We didn’t really know where I was at or where the car was at and then coming to Sydney and getting that podium, especially having Bathurst right after gave us a heap of confidence heading into that round and also next year.
Was there a performance you were particularly proud of this season?
JS: I was pretty proud of my performance in the final race at the Bathurst 1000, I was pretty happy to be racing up the front with those guys. To be battling, I got up to second at one point, so to be battling for a podium and even a win at one point was pretty cool and even though we didn’t get a podium in the end, it was a really good experience.
Was there a race where you felt like you learned the most?
JS: After starting at the back in the second race at the Bathurst 500, I definitely learnt a lot trying to work my way through the field. I learnt how to be more aggressive while also being careful not to bump into anyone while you’re trying to pass them. I also learnt how to spot the best places to pass and defend.
Given you only got three rounds in this year, would you say the season exceeded your expectations?
JS: At the start of the year I had pretty high expectations to be sitting around the top ten and I still would have been happy with that in the last two rounds but I actually exceeded my expectations.
Being part of the Erebus Academy meant you got the call up for the Eseries, how was that?
JS: It was great to be a part of the Eseries again. Even though it’s online, it’s still racing at the end of the day and I got to spend time with the Erebus crew and get to know them better. It is the same when we are at the track, all of us Erebus junior drivers try to help each other out as much as we can.
We’re yet to see a season undisrupted due to COVID. Is it safe to assume the plan next year is to be racing more?
JS: My plan for next year to race the whole Toyota 86 series, hopefully with no COVID interruptions this time. I’d love to get in a full Championship and be fighting for that top position.