Healthy competition

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 22/04/2016
  • By Kassie Gadeke

DJR Team Penske driver Scott Pye says healthy competition is helping he and teammate Fabian Coulthard push toward the front.

Pye’s future has been under the microscope already this season, after the team expanded to two cars for 2016 to accommodate him as well as hand-picked driver Coulthard.

Though Pye is determined to prove himself alongside race-winner Coulthard, he knows working together is the best way to catapult DJR Team Penske up the standings after showing promise early this season.

“I think this year has been great confidence for me already because I got the first pole position for the team – we’ve shown that we’ve got good speed and Fabian and myself are working really well together,” Pye told v8supercars.com at yesterday’s Castrol Edge Townsville 400 launch. 

“I feel like we’ve both pushed the team in the right direction and we’re getting the best out of what we’ve got.

“Saturday at Phillip Island was the most evident of that when we were 0.001sec between us or something – I felt like we both got the best out of what we had and on that day it was ninth and 10th.”

Earning third on Sunday at Phillip Island equals Pye’s best result, which he achieved in New Zealand last year.

When looking for a driver last year, the Penske team was after a race winner. While Pye has not crossed the line first yet, he feels he is matching it with Coulthard.

Pye sits 12th in the standings with a best finish of third on Sunday at Phillip Island, while his teammate is 15th, his best third on Saturday at the same circuit. 

“There’s never been a point where we were separated by very much, so I feel like we’re trying to maximise the packages we’ve got,” he said.  

“Some days you’re going to get it better than your teammate, you kind of crack the setup a little bit more … it’s one of those things that’s important about driving the team forward, is that competiveness between the two of us.

“It’s healthy though – we’ve both got the same interests, we both want the team to move forward and do well.

“Obviously when you’re one and two in the championship, that’s when it might become a real battle between the two, but right now we’ve got the exact same goal and that’s to move the team forward in the best possible way we can.

“For me I feel like I’ve really come out this year and done a really solid job, so I’m pretty happy with my performance so far.”

Coulthard showed good pace at Phillip Island and put in an impressive performance in Saturday’s race, driving up from ninth to third at the fast, flowing circuit.

Sunday was marred with an issue, though, and Pye confirmed the team was still trying to get to the bottom of it.

“That’s one we’re still working on, so I can’t say just yet,” he said.

“But I don’t think reliability is something we’re too worried about at the moment, just something that when those things happen you need to make sure it’s diagnosed properly so it doesn’t happen again.”

Upcoming circuit Barbagallo Raceway in Perth was tough for DJR Team Penske last year.

Roger Penske will once again atDtend the event – his last visit New Zealand, where he opened a facility and watched Pye race onto the podium.

Pye says he is keeping an open mind about results at the abrasive West Australian circuit, and is hugely looking forward to Penske’s presence at the meeting.

“I’ve been really privileged in my career … [with] big names and some great support. With Dick Johnson along for the ride as well, it has been great to be able to get the opportunity to race in front of Roger,” he said.

“It’s something he is extremely interested in.

“At Phillip Island we got on the podium, he was the first one to text me and it was two o’clock in the morning in the States – so he’s not missing a beat.

“It’s not any different really that he’s there, it’s just a good opportunity to race in front of such an icon of motorsport.”

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