It was just the second lap of Race 27, the final of the Winton 360, and marshals were running towards the stranded ekol Holden of Scott Pye, near the entry to pit lane. His VF Commodore was on fire – and smoke was filling the cabin.
Pye got out of the car quickly – and physically he was fine.
After Sunday’s race the 23-year old admitted the car had caught on fire the previous day as well, though it hadn’t been as serious.
“The exhaust pipe was sitting just in front of the side skirt and that’s actually what caught fire,” Pye told v8supercars.com.au.
“It just took a little whack and it was enough that with the backfire from the exhaust pipe, it set the side skirt alight and that got up to the rear quarter, and the boot caught alight as well.
“Because it had happened (the previous day) I knew it was on fire straight away.”
He tried to get back to pit lane, thinking if it was just the side skirt the fire could be put out, the exhaust fixed, and he’d be back on the track on the lead lap.
“But obviously the fire escalated pretty quickly and by the time I got to pit lane I couldn’t breathe, let alone see.
“So I just got it straight off the circuit and got out as soon as I could. It started to get pretty hot in there.”
Pye thought there may have been light contact that contributed, but was unsure.
In the new generation V8 Supercar, the fuel cell is in a different position to the previous form of car – in front of the rear axel centre line – so accidents similar to the huge fireball of Karl Reindler on the grid at Barbagallo Raceway cannot occur.
Twenty-three year old rookie Pye has been involved in a number of accidents this year and described this particular incident as scary.
“It’s scary knowing you’re on fire and you’re trying to make it two and a half kilometres back to the pit lane.
“I was trying to make it back as soon as possible but obviously when I struggled to breathe I had to straight away get out of the car.”
However, he was hopeful the team’s luck would change and positive about the upcoming PIRTEK Enduro Cup.
Just the previous day in Race 25, Pye qualified 11th and finished 12th. That result equaled his career best qualifying and though he has finished a race 11th, he hasn’t been this close to the top 10 since the first event of the year.
In Sunday’s earlier race at WInton, Pye had finished 15th, another result he had been happy with.
“We had a great run this weekend with 12th and 15th – it was definitely looking up.
“It’s just one of those things – it’s racing – and fortunately I’m ok and the car’s not too bad.
“I’m sure the boys will do a great job and have the car looking square and neat, and we’ll be back for the next race.”
The next V8 Supercars event is from September 13-15, the Wilson Security Sandown 500, also in Victoria. Tickets are available now.