Veteran Baird in Supercars deep end

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but it seems remembering the ones you already know can also be hard to recall.

New Zealand driver Craig Baird spent his 46th birthday on Friday trying his best to get reacquainted to life as a solo Supercars driver.

Baird has been drafted in to replace Aaren Russell for Erebus Motorsport at this weekend’s Ipswich SuperSprint event at Queensland Raceway.

Russell and Erebus parted ways following the Townsville 400 earlier this month after a season where the rookie driver struggled to make an impact in his debut Supercars campaign.

The event will be the first time Baird has competed in a Supercar for two years – with most of his racing these days done in a state-of-the-art Mercedes in the Australian GT Championship.

“It is just so foreign,” he said.

“When you front up for a sprint round there’s nowhere to hide … just going back to the gear shift is just a horror.

“I come from traction control, ABS – seriously where it’s like cheating and then you jump in these and realise the guys certainly earn their money.”

In 1999 Baird partnered with Jason Bright and seemed destined to win the inaugural Queensland 500 at Ipswich only for an engine failure late in the race to ruin their day.

While Baird isn’t expecting to come anywhere close to a win this weekend, he did end his practice day with a faster lap time in the final 60-minute session than Holden’s Garth Tander and teenage rookie Kurt Kostecki.

“You know the job I’ve got to do and that’s run the car – I’m not going to sit on the front row of the grid – but obviously I want to do as good a job as I can,” he said.

“Hopefully I’m not last. I wasn’t last today.”

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