Holdsworth was surprised by exit rumours

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The three-time race winner missed out on a Tickford seat for the current campaign, as part of the Ford squad’s unwilling move back to three cars.

That left him without a full-time ride for 2021 despite having a contract with Tickford and showing decent form last year, including provisional pole at the season-ending Bathurst 1000.

Reflecting on his unexpected exit from both the team and the category, Holdsworth says his first inkling that something was wrong came via whispers in the paddock during that Bathurst weekend.

He says he then met with Tickford boss Tim Edwards a number of times before finally being told he was out of a drive.

“A couple of little things came out over that [Bathurst] weekend,” Holdsworth told the Below the Bonnet podcast.

“[James Moffat] actually said something to me, he said ‘hey what’s going on for next year?’. That’s when I started thinking, what’s going on here?

“I felt a bit stupid. I was finding all this out in the background. With Supercheap Auto leaving the team, which wasn’t confirmed at that stage but was looking pretty shaky, I just thought I had a sponsor on my car and they were happy with what I was doing.

“After [Bathurst] a couple more things came out so I thought I better go and see Tim. I hit up Tim about it, and the first issue was the sponsorship, trying to replace Supercheap Auto.

“The next issue was the licence. Tickford had four drivers for three cars.

“It was frustrating because I couldn’t get an answer from anywhere. I knew without funding, without bringing sponsorship, I was in the shit. There was Thomas Randle and Jack [Le Brocq] with funding. I knew it was going to end pretty. As it turned out they couldn’t run a fourth car and I was out.

“I kept going to Tim to see what was going on. I needed answers because it was getting pretty late in the piece. I ended up going to Tim and saying ‘okay, it’s time to give me an answer’. If it’s no it’s no, if it’s yes it’s yes. Just let me know’.

“After pushing pretty hard for an answer he ended top basically saying it wasn’t looking good for me. I said ‘well I’ve got a contract so what do we do here?’ We had to go into some negotiating over the break.”

Holdsworth has a full-time TCR Australia programme for the 2021 season, and will return to the Bathurst 1000 in October as a co-driver for Chaz Mostert at Walkinshaw Andretti United.

As for 2022 and beyond, he’s not ruling out a full-time return to Supercars, but says it would have to be a competitive deal.

“I haven’t [closed the door],” said Holdsworth. “I’d certainly consider what I was going into. If I was going to go back, it would want to be in a competitive team.”

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