A relaxed Scott Pye has declared himself ready to win his first V8 Supercars race on home territory at the Clipsal 500 tomorrow.
“It would be something special to win in front of that South Aussie crowd that has been cheering me on,” the DJR Team Penske Shell Helix Ford Falcon FG X driver said after taking his first pole position for Saturday’s opening 125km race.
“It’s something I really want to do. I want to get on the roof after winning the race and thank the South Australian crowd for supporting me,” Pye told v8supercars.com.
Pye will have six-time champion Jamie Whincup alongside him on the front row for the first-ever soft tyre race on the Adelaide Parklands track, with Scott McLaughlin and defending champion Mark Winterbottom on row two.
But the 26-year is in no way intimidated by the heavy hitting rivals around him, saying he knows what he has to do take victory.
“I know I have the car speed I just need to get off the line. Even if we drop back, hopefully we have enough pace to pass and get back into the lead,” he said.
And despite the imminent prospect of a first V8 Supercars win, Pye said he wouldn’t be suffering from nerves overnight.
“There is no pressure on, I know if we don’t win tomorrow we will win a race at some point. We have proved we have the speed now.
“I am nice and relaxed and away we go.”
Pye did admit some surprise at his pole-winning pace.
“Going into the weekend we figured this might be a weak track for us and to roll out with the car so competitive is promising for the future,” he said.
Pye has also put himself in position to break through for team owner Roger Penske first V8 Supercars win only 12 months after he took over majority ownership of the team from Dick Johnson.
Pye was in the garages with Penske at the Clipsal 12 months ago watching on as Marcos Ambrose debuted the US motor racing mogul’s car. But the Tasmanian’s return to full-time V8 racing lasted only two meetings before he stepped aside for Pye.
While ‘The Captain’ isn’t in Adelaide this year, Pye was confident he would be excited by the news of the pole position.
“He just wants to win tomorrow! He will be really happy about today but obviously today doesn’t count,” he said. “It’s a nice confidence boost for everyone but we need to work just as hard now to maintain this and get the race win.
“I am sure the Captain is pretty happy right now.”
Pye also paid tribute to co-owner Johnson and how much it meant to be running the touring car legend’s #17 and be in Shell colours, which Johnson was associated with for much of his career.
“I saw a photo of me as a kid the other day working with my Dad in 1994 cleaning my go kart in our garage. And there was a sticker behind of us of a Shell Falcon with Johnson on the side.
“Then I was in our workshop and saw the stickers arrive for this year and to see my name under the 17 and above the Shell Helix was a very cool feeling.
“Dick’s smile was ear to ear when I got out of the car. He was one of the first people who came up to me.”
Pye ranked his first pole position in the V8 Supercars championship among his greatest three achievements in racing, the other two being his podium at Pukekohe last November and the strong pace he displayed at Bathurst that effectively convinced Penske to retain him for 2016.
“I didn’t get the result that weekend but I know what went into that race and how quick we were.
“That weekend is what get me to where I am today. That performance is why I am driving for DJR Team Penske.”
Pye was a front-runner at Bathurst last year. He qualified fifth, was seventh in the sodden ARMOR ALL Top 10 Shootout but then broke a rib in a heavy crash at the end of the race caused by a steering failure.
It’s far from the only setback Pye has suffered in his life and career. He was backed to race in Europe by Triple Eight owner Roland Dane, but returned home to finish second in the Dunlop development series in 2012. He had a difficult debut season in the main game driving for LDM in 2013, then showed promise at a cash-strapped DJR in 2014.
Away from racing he has suffered the tragedy of losing his father to cancer in 2009.
Pye has also fought back from a road car accident in 2003 in which he was severely injured.
He also paid tribute to his crew for their hard work, acknowledged the efforts of his 2015 engineer Mark Fenning and new engineer Adam De Borre.
De Borre shifted to DJRTP from Prodrive Racing Australia this year where he worked with Chaz Mostert. Returning from injury, Mostert claimed the other pole position today for the hard tyre race. Pye qualified seventh second time out.
Leading engineer Phil Keed and a substantial number of new crew have joined the team as it has expanded from one to two cars for 2016, with Fabian Coulthard alongside Pye.
“All the guys are really excited and the motivation is mega,” said Pye. “I feel like we have out together some of the best guys in pitlane.
“Adam has come with a lot of credentials behind his name … he gave me a great car today and I am looking forward to what we can achieve in the future.”