Life of Pye: Bouncing back in Bathurst

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 03/03/2021
  • By Scott Pye

This is the first of Scott Pye’s post-event columns for The Team 18 driver scored finishes of 19th and eighth at the Repco Mt Panorama 500. Get the lowdown on the DEWALT Racing driver’s maiden hit out of 2021.

I’d say my weekend in Bathurst was one of missed opportunities, and I’m slightly frustrated. We had good speed, and I had good opportunity to get stronger results.

I feel like there was a strong chance to get a podium on Saturday after seeing how many others tripped up.

Our speed was really good, and we missed out on a trophy. We’re not alone in that respect, but the first event is one you really want to capitalise on. Across the board, being the first event, we saw a lot of mistakes from many drivers.

But for me, looking back, I’m frustrated with that lap 1 incident on Saturday. It unravelled at the start after what was looking like a good weekend. I’m still happy that we bounced back with a decent result on Sunday.

The positive out of the weekend is the team result. I say that I personally wasn’t able to capitalise on opportunities, but the guys still managed to get my car back out and I scored some points.

Frosty secured two good results for the team, which along with my results meant we’re third in points. Personally, I left some points on the table, but it was a good weekend for the team.

Regarding the first lap incident, I’m not fully out of blame; I made a bad start, and put myself in a bad spot and lost a few spots.

Andre Heimgartner and myself got by James Courtney through Turn 2, and I was running alongside Andre to the Cutting. I think JC rubbed the back of Andre as he pulled out to pass him, and that sent Andre wide into me.

We were two-wide, JC made it three-wide; he either got touched or opened up the lock, and he hit my wheel. Wheel-to-wheel contact in these cars always leaves you open to disaster.

It was a shame; two guys ran two wide, then someone made it three-wide and it ended in disaster for me. It was a silly opening-lap incident that wouldn’t have happened in the 1000.

A lot of drivers’ mentalities changed because it was a 250km race. The overtaking at the weekend was hard; with the cars the way they are at the moment, many thought their best opportunity to make up spots was on the opening lap.

Tim Slade’s crash was an interesting one. It’s very difficult to pass comment without being in the driver’s seat. You can hear it engaged second gear, the RPMs raised, and then he’s gone back to first gear, which locked the rears.

You can sometimes get false neutral in these cars, I think that’s what happened to Scott McLaughlin last year. For Sladey, sadly, it ended in disaster, but the intensity of the racing was so high.

No one’s leaving anything on the table, it’s really intense out there. One little mistake, and you’re in the wall. Take Anton De Pasquale’s crash. I reckon guys were a bit rusty after the Christmas break, and coming into a race of high-intensity, they made mistakes and paid the price.

As for Shane van Gisbergen, we knew he was quick, but I think the most impressive thing was how he came out on Sunday and was so much quicker. Chaz Mostert was certainly faster on Saturday, certainly with regards to race pace; Shane even said that if he had to, he wouldn’t have been able to match Chaz’s pace.

I was pretty surprised that the top three of SVG, Chaz and Cam Waters had such a big gap to P4. We saw that in the shootout on Sunday; nearly two seconds covered the top 10.

I’m really positive going forward. Our pace in the races was really good; it’s why I was annoyed about Saturday, because we had the second fastest car, and being caught up in the early incident potentially cost us a podium.

We need to keep our heads down. We’ve left plenty of points on the table at the first event, but I can’t go back and change that. We need to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

But we’re third in the teams’ championship because the crew did such a good job to get my car back out for Saturday after I had bent steering; they bloody nailed it.

I think we’ve got a good season ahead. Sandown will be similar in mentality for a lot of the drivers. I think we’ll see aggressive racing, and I think we’ll see lots of mistakes again.

I believe our car will suit Sandown. We obviously didn’t race there last year, but for our cars, they work well with straight braking and shorter corners. With good tyre life heading onto the front straight, I reckon we’ll be able to get a few overtakes.

We want to prove, like we did last year, that we have a good car in a lot of different places. I’m really excited to get back on track.

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