Johnson, Pye fuming after Frosty incident

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 25/08/2014
  • By V8 Supercars

Lap one carnage at Sydney Motorsport Park saw two V8 Supercars badly damaged - and Dick Johnson Racing is pointing the finger at Ford hero Mark Winterbottom.

Uncharacteristically qualifying 15th, Winterbottom pounced in the pack from the start. A nudge into David Reynolds coming into turn three tapped the Bottle-O Falcon into Pye, on the outside, causing both to run off the track at high speed.

The V8 Supercars went barreling into the wall, Reynolds' hitting with the rear, while Pye's crash was head on, and Winterbottom was immediately penalised for the incident with a drive-through penalty.

Along way from the career best fourth result Pye recorded at the last event - and the young gun was sore from the impact, which he described as a bigger hit than he suffered in Tasmania last year.

"I saw the whole thing - I was far enough back that I could see what Frosty was doing," Pye told v8supercars.com.au.

"And I think, to be fair, Frosty was just getting desperate at that point.

"He got into Reynolds and was pushing him quite a bit and then the last hit, I saw Reynolds' car get hit quite hard from behind and all that did was unsettle the rear. The rear wheel of Reynolds' car has come across, hit my front wheel. Once I went off the hill ... it was just wet grass and straight into a concrete wall.

"I was a victim of someone else's silly driving and it's a shame for the boys now, they have a massive job to turn the car around.

"For me, I'm pretty sore, and very disappointed. I'm very interested to see how many Gs it was because the car just didn't slow down."

At the track, the car had not been completely assessed - but team boss Steven Johnson estimated the cost of the front-end damage at approximately $50,000. He was even less complimentary of Winterbottom, blaming him for the damage.

"It's part of racing, but the thing that really disappoints me the most is when people do make these sort of mistakes - not Scott, but how the incident happened with Winterbottom," Johnson told v8supercars.com.au.

"Hitting his own teammate, causing him to have half a spin and go into the side of us. Those sort of people - and I've got a lot of respect for Frosty, and he's quite a good friend - but sometimes you've got to admit when you make a mistake.

"Some of the comments I've seen that they thought they were hard-done by getting a pit lane penalty, I think it's pretty disgusting you can't admit you're at fault, admit your mistake and move on.

"So that's probably the most disappointing thing - I've made plenty of mistakes and I put my hand up for them.

"When that sort of thing happens, in that situation I would've known exactly what was coming to me in terms of a penalty and I would have probably come round and said something... apologise for causing it."

When reminded the Pepsi Max driver was fighting for a Championship - that looked to be spiraling out of control - Johnson warned the title would slip away if Winterbottom didn't take a good look at himself.

"I thought Frosty was in very good control of the Championship and his own driving, I thought he'd been driving well and hadn't been making any slim mistakes.

"FPR certainly had their fair share of inter-team mistakes that cost good results and I thought they were getting on top of that, but the last couple of race meetings (he) seems to be going back to the old desperate Frosty we've seen in the past, like Darwin 2013 when he took his teammate out there.

"He needs to sit down and regather himself, get back to the Frosty he was back in New Zealand when he drove, probably the best I've seen him drive."

A clearly disheartened Winterbottom brushed off the criticism and said it was unfortunate it happened that way - but with Pye on the outside he didn't feel responsible for the damage.

"When there's incidents, concertinas and you're on the outside and the car goes left you're always going to end up in a bad position," Winterbottom told v8supercars.com.au.

"It was unfortunate Dave was caught up in it because he's the priority for me, he's my teammate. We're ok - he had half a moment, and I'm getting pushed, there's cars everywhere. I don't know how you can label someone something from that... They're just angry I'm sure and they'll calm down after a few days."

He didn't seem impressed when told they felt he should apologise for the incident.

"I've been behind David Wall (Pye's teammate) blocking me for 19th position or 23rd position. You've got to race. The end result's bad but I don't know what they want me to do. Put yourself in bad positions and at the start it's unfortunate things happen...

"When you're on the outside, you're three or four wide you're almost on the edge. He's trying to go from 16th to third or something on the first lap ... I feel bad that Dave's car's damaged but I don't feel bad about the situation because it's unavoidable."

DJR has had to change plans for today's ride day with Pye's car unable to run. However there will be plenty of time to repair the #16 before the September 12-14 Wilson Security Sandown 500, as the team was not planning to test before.

Reynolds' Falcon will be assessed at the team's Melbourne workshop tomorrow, to determine whether it will repaired of if a new shell will be built up for Reynolds' enduro campaign.

Heading into the Sydney Motorsport Park 400, Winterbottom trailed Jamie Whincup by 15 points. That gap has widened to 135.

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