JESS Moulden retired from racing formula 500s at the end of last season. But even she isn’t surprised she’s back tearing up the clay.
The former Australian champion has secured a drive in the T27 Triple X car courtesy of good friend and fellow racer Dylan Willsher.
She will return to the scene of her greatest triumph when Laang Speedway hosts round four of Speedweek tonight.
“I planned not to race at all,” Moulden told The Standard yesterday. “I sold my car and I told everyone I’d retired.
“I’ve been really good friends with Dylan Willsher for a while. He used to crew for me before he started racing.
“He was in a position he could get two cars going and what started out as an idea in the shed one night has come to reality.”
The surprise partnership has paid modest dividends during the opening two nights of Speedweek.
Moulden is 11th on the standings with 237 points, behind Queensland pacesetter Charlie Brown, 312.
But it’s not results she is chasing. Having given away racing full-time, Moulden is keen to simply enjoy herself on the track.
“I had a few injuries that weren’t healing quite as well as I hoped. I didn’t want to do it full-time anymore,” she said. “And more (retiring), it was to take the pressure off myself. I put a lot of pressure on myself trying to get results for sponsors.
“It was a bit stressful at the start. We had two cars and we weren’t sure how it was going to go, but now we’re getting into it it’s been good.”
Laang has been a happy hunting ground for Moulden who first announced herself by winning the 2008-09 Victorian Stampede Series.
She defeated a high-quality field to salute in the Australian title in 2012 and won the 2012-13 Speedweek round there last season.
Coincidentally, she and Willsher went one-two in that Speedweek round — a result they are keen to replicate tonight.
“We have a bit of good banter, we hang a bit of s... on each other, but we’re doing it for different reasons,” she said.
Moulden said she was disappointed for Willsher after rain washed out round three at Allansford’s Premier Speedway yesterday.
“It would’ve been good to have two cars on the track for January 1 in front of such a big crowd,” she said.
But she was excited to race again at Laang, a track with which the Willsher family has a strong connection.
The Speedweek rounds at Laang and Simpson also represent her best chance to pick up a win in the new car.
“Nothing is the same. We’ve got a different chassis, a different motor, we’re now running injection,” she said.
“We’ve been OK, we haven’t been great, just consistent. We’re lacking a bit of car speed on the big tracks.
“It would’ve been nice to see how we went (at Premier yesterday) but you can’t control the weather.”
Speedweek continues at Darlington’s Mid-Western Speedway tomorrow before heading to Simpson Speedway on Saturday. The series wraps up at Premier Speedway on Sunday, a meeting which carries the rescheduled Jack Willsher Cup.