Hot Pye

  • 14/10/2015
  • By Bruce Newton
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

Scott Pye's impressive pace at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 was critical in Roger Penske green lighting his team's expansion to two cars and keeping the young South Australian in a drive for 2016.

With Fabian Coulthard all-but confirmed as DJR Team Penske's full-time driver in 2016 and the team only expected to field one car, Pye had been looking for a new home as recently as last weekend at Bathurst. He had been linked with the Wilson Security GRM team next year, driving a Volvo S60 alongside Scott McLaughlin.

However, Pye's performance at Bathurst in which he was consistently amongst the fastest drivers and made the ARMOR ALL Top 10 Shootout, played a pivotal role in convincing Penske the two car expansion should happen even though the deal wasn't finalised commercially.

"Scott's pace was critical to the call," confirmed DJRTP managing director Ryan Story.

"Roger followed the race closely through live timing as well as updates from us throughout the weekend."

The team made the decision to expand to two cars overnight Sunday and Pye's confirmation came only hours after he was cleared of serious injures from his heavy crash late in the 1000 in the XBOX Ford Falcon FG X when a steering arm broke.

He has since declared he will be fit and ready to race in the Castrol Gold Coast 600 next week.

"The Bathurst weekend I wasn't going out to prove a point or anything, I just wanted to do the best job I could for everyone and ideally I would have loved to have won the race, but we showed all weekend we had great speed," Pye told media during a teleconference on Tuesday afternoon.

"I didn't have any idea (about the two-car expansion)," said Pye.

"My goal all-season was just to do the best job I could. I was given a fantastic opportunity to step into the lead role this year and just took every weekend as an opportunity to show what I could do and try and help this team as much as possible."

While cleared of suspected broken ribs, Pye was discharged from hospital on Sunday with heavy bruising and nothing to show from an event were he had been one of the fastest drivers.

But on Monday travelling home to Queensland from the race Pye learned of the overnight decision by the team to run two cars in 2016, meaning he would continue with the operation in car #17 as Coulthard's teammate.

"It has really come as a big surprise to me and it has certainly made me feel a lot better after that big hit on Sunday," Pye said.

"It's an exciting opportunity I have been given again.

"I think this year we have become a front-runner now. We are getting closer and closer and I think next year my goal would be to be consistently in the top five and be challenging for podiums."

Pye only stepped in to the DJRTP Falcon after the much-anticipated full-time return of Marcos Ambrose to V8 Supercars racing ended after two events.

Ambrose is co-driving in the Pirtek Enduro Cup and will announce his future plans - either retirement or a continued role as a co-driver - after the 600.

Pye welcomed the addition of Coulthard to the team and the speed that will add to the development time of the team's Falcons.

"For me it's going to be great to have a well credentialed team-mate that has won races and I can back myself against as well and try and learn as much as I can from him," said Pye.

"I experienced this year in a one-car team how tough it is in terms of developing the car and I think we can do it a lot faster together.

"So I am certainly excited to work with him and along with the other additions we will have to the team."

Pye is still in pain and on drugs to help him sleep. He is taking precautions to ensure he will ready to go alongside Ambrose at the Gold Coast, an event that is run on a rough and heavily kerbed street circuit where the drivers cop a real beating.

"All I have got is some bruising which I am sure I will exaggerate over the next few days to get some sympathy out of it," joked Pye. "But I am now on the road to recovery and it's simply some bruising.

"I was meant to be out in the go kart next weekend but I won't be doing that. I will be making sure I am ready for the Gold Coast 600 next week.

"After seeing the car and the size of the hit I think it's a testament to the chassis in the cars now. I feel very fortunate that I was not seriously injured. I feel fine now, just a little bit tender and on some pain killers to help me sleep, but I will bounce back and be ready for the 600 next week."

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