Newest recruit and former Australian test batsman Brad Hodge scored a maiden podium in a Penrite Racing Commodore in last night’s Supercars Celebrity Eseries, while CEO Barry Ryan charged through to finish with a best of eighth after a valiant effort.
Australian Rally Champion and Pedders Managing Director Scott Pedder also impressed as he traded dirt for tarmac, rounding out the night with a convincing race win.
At lights out Barry was almost instantly up to seventh place after starting twelfth, while a big moment on the first corner saw Scott fired into the wall off the front bumper of Brad Jones.
Hodgey seized the opportunity, and as cars continued to crash he moved up five places to P9 before slipping back to P16 by the end of the opening lap.
While Scott and Hodgey were forced back into pit lane with damage, Barry continued to push his way up the standings. A monumental crash on the front straight though saw it all come undone for the #999 Commodore, when Zac Brown turned in front of Mick Doohan and ultimately into Barry on the front straight.
Barry was able to race on and crossed the finish line in a commendable eighth place, ahead of Hodgey and Scott in P22 and P24 respectively.
A reverse grid for the second nine-lapper meant Scott started at the front of the pack, just ahead of Hodgey in P3, and Barry a long way back in P17.
All three Commodores steered clear of carnage at the start and Scott led the way, with Hodgey moving into second and Barry making his way up to eighth place before a Safety Car was called on lap two.
The restart got the better of Barry as the #999 Commodore slid wide at turn one and ultimately upside down on the run to turn two. Barry found trouble again when Olympian Jarryd Hughes had a moment coming out of the Dipper, collecting the #999 as he bounced off the walls.
Scott and Hodgey charged on and the #4 Pedders entry continued its lead to the checkered flag, pulling a 7.5-second margin to Blake Williams in second, ahead of Hodgey who shone in the Penrite Racing Commodore to finish third. Barry rounded out the team’s noble efforts finishing 14th.
Following the night’s action, Barry Ryan said: The whole experience was really good. I can see the attraction of iRacing. I’ve definitely learned that the pressure of putting all you’ve done in practice into a qualifying session and not messing up is key. Then taking that into the race and trying to avoid accidents, it’s a whole different experience.
“Until a few weeks ago I had never really been on a sim. You just have to put so much time into it. Once I committed to doing the race, I was on it every day before or after work just trying to get better.
“My times in practice didn’t translate into qualifying unfortunately, I should have been about fourth, but it’s all easy to say, and that’s the pressure. It’s what professional sports people experience. We put pressure on our drivers, but they are professionals, so for me to have had a taste of experiencing that, I think it’s good and I think it’s something that has helped give me more insight into that.
“It was a cool experience and surreal at times to have Greg Murphy, Craig Lowndes and Steve Richards racing you. It was an awesome initiative and great to see Scott and Hodgey up the front.”
Brad Hodge was pleased with his efforts: “Podium at Bathurst on my first outing – you wouldn’t read about it.
“Seriously though, the first race was no good. I ran into Craig Lowndes and then ended up in a caravan at the top of the mountain. I then sat in the pits for a bout 6.5-minutes and watched my temperature rise. Race one was like getting out for a duck in the first innings so then I put a good score on the board in the second innings.
“Race 2 I just stayed out of trouble. I followed Scotty (Pedder) as best I could and got the trophy. Most of the field were professional sportspeople and we were all trying hard, we all wanted to do well. I was representing Erebus, so it was important to do my best and it was good fun. I’ll be on the phone next to Barry to see what’s on the table for my future! (laughs).”
Scott Pedder, backed up his early claims of winning, saying: ”We had huge problems in the first race and spent 5-minutes in the pits fixing the car so we came last, but then got pole for race two so we were pretty lucky there. That definitely helped because it’s very hard to get through the traffic.
“We were able to keep it pretty clean, so came home with the win which was fantastic, and we had great fun. I was worried about John Steffensen in the final run and he was coming pretty hard but got turned around so it was a very relaxed lap after that. It was my first win since Rally in 2014 so it’s been a long time between drinks! I probably wouldn’t rank this as high as an Australian Rally Car Championship – but it’s pretty close (laughs).”
The Supercars Eseries is back again on Wednesday when the All Stars tackle Charlotte and Daytona road courses.