Two young rookies shined at the Coates Hire Ipswich 360. They both stood on the top step of the podium across two of three races, one wracking up his second Championship win, the other celebrating a maiden victory.
Last year they were first and third in the Dunlop Series Championship and have shown how drivers can successfully graduate to the main V8 Supercars series.
But in 2012 there was a driver splitting both Scott McLaughlin and Chaz Mostert in the DVS points. He was back at the bottom end of the field at Queensland Raceway, having a disappointing run at a circuit he had plenty of confidence going to.
Scott Pye may have generated attention for many of the wrong reasons this season – several big crashes in the ekol Racing Holden Commodore, contact with other drivers and recently slapped with a post-race penalty – but he knows he’s capable of competing and winning in the series, given the right opportunities.
“The results were unfortunate at a circuit I know well and am fast around – this year it proved to be another disappointing weekend,” Pye said of the Coates Hire Ipswich 360.
But Pye isn’t letting it affect him – after an incident with veteran Russell Ingall, which saw the 23-year old docked 25 Championship points post-race, he firstly thought he may need to tone down his driving. But then he wondered, what was Russell doing down the back end of the field, anyway?
“The penalty with Russell? I didn’t think much of it. Russell hit my rear wheel, I got done, it was viewed as a lunge more than anything. I have to get used to this ‘bump and run’.
“Points don’t affect me, I’m not going for the Championship. It’s just one of those things – maybe I should tone it down and keep everyone happy. I’m just young and ambitious.
“Russell is qualifying back there with us – that’s why we’re around each other a lot. We’ve had a couple of run-ins, but I have nothing against the guy. He’s a fantastic driver and nothing’s working for him.
“Qualifying back there always means a fight. One of the things I’ve learned – even in p25, everyone’s racing like they’re going for the lead of the race.”
While Ingall offered some advice to Pye over Twitter – “…Stop crashing into me and you might finish races. Simple really” – the rookie has more than enough firepower in his support group.
Managed by Roland Dane and recently mentored by Craig Lowndes, who better to support a potential future Champion through a rough first season?
“We had a good little chat one morning at the event,” Pye said. “Obviously Craig is the nicest guy in pit lane and the best person to have on your side. He’s still at the top of his game after all these years. He’s one of the most experienced, yet he knows what it’s like for someone in my position at the beginning of their career.
“I have a lot to learn – when Craig offers any advice I take on as much as I can… Roland’s been a big supporter of mine, I can pick up the phone any day and talk to Craig, and I’m sure Jamie (Whincup) would be the same as well. It’s a big help.”
Lowndes spoke to v8supercars.com.au about his views of Pye, and the sympathetic comments weren’t taken lightly by the rookie.
“To hear those nice things, I sent his a text straight away and said thanks very much – he didn’t have to do that.”
And while you could assume it would be hard for Pye to see his peers writing their names in the results books while he battled at the back of the pack, he loved seeing the young guns show up big names.
It’s a sign of things to come – from him as well.
“It was great to see them win. It was disappointing, the position I was in.
“But I raced and beat those guys often last year. It’s great to see them doing well – given opportunities, I can be doing that as well.
“I still have confidence seeing them win.
“It’s not quite clicking at the moment… I’m trying to keep an open mind and have high hopes of turning it around. I’m not focusing on the enduros, just doing the best we can at every round.”
Pye sits 26th in the Championship points.
The next V8 Supercars event is the Winton 360, in Victoria, and tickets are available now.