Scott Pye has revealed his best result on track came at a time of significant physical pain as he was recovering from broken ribs after the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
There were plenty of eyes on the DJR Team Penske recruit at the Castrol Gold Coast 600, his first time behind the wheel after a substantial accident at Mount Panorama. But the following round in New Zealand – when he broke through for his first podium – wasn’t a walk in the park either.
“To be completely honest, I really struggled – the Gold Coast was really tough,” Pye told v8supercars.com.au when asked of his injury.
“New Zealand was almost equally as tough as Gold Coast, just with the bumpy track there. But we came out of it with a podium, so I was really happy I stayed in the car!”
The 26-year old says he wouldn’t have gotten behind the wheel if he didn’t feel physically able – he didn’t want to set the team back, which pushed hard all year to make gains with the Ford Falcon FG X.
The turning point came just in time for the enduros and paired with category legend Marcos Ambrose, Pye didn’t want to step out once he had a taste of success.
He explained the lengths he had gone to in order to race the brutal Gold Coast street circuit, with practice beginning less than a fortnight after becoming injured.
“I spent every morning in hospital getting injected so my ribs were numb – that was obviously tough and makes your day a bit longer when you’re up at 4am to go to the hospital every morning,” he said.
“I actually tried to do practice one – it’s funny, at the Gold Coast we were fastest in practice one but I actually couldn’t complete the session so I ended up ducking to the hospital between practice one and two.
“So it was very tough. But it was something for me in the car, we had finally gotten to a point where I felt the car was competitive and I … was really determined to drive the car.”
While Pye knew racing would probably set back his recovery, he is glad he pushed on.
“At the end of the day once the adrenalin starts going, it’s like a boxer getting punched in the middle of a fight hurts a lot less than getting punched just standing there.
“So it’s funny that once you start racing, your mind is on other things and your focus is on driving the car.
“And that was always what it was – if I felt like I wasn’t doing the best job in the car, obviously I wouldn’t hold the team back.
"But I felt like in the car, once the race was on, I felt great and the car was working really well and I wasn’t going to give it up for anything.”
Not only was the team on top of the Ford Falcon FG X, Pye had just signed on as a 2016 driver for DJR Team Penske in shock news the squad would expand to run two cars.
Bathurst was a result to forget, but a performance to remember with Pye and Ambrose mixing with the front-runners all weekend and qualifying for the ARMOR ALL Top 10 Shootout.
After a mechanical failure, Pye’s Falcon speared into the wall, leaving him with the rib injury. But on the way home the next day a call from Penske heavyweight Tim Cindric cemented him as a DJR Team Penske full-timer – something he had definitely not expected.
Pye achieved his and the team’s first podium as DJR Team Penske in New Zealand in November, and finished the year off inside the top 10 in Sydney as his ribs healed.
He raced with a go kart rib protector for the last few rounds, which helped, and now he is fully fighting fit to face testing and the Clipsal 500, his home track.
“Training and everything was the same, I just couldn’t play as much golf as I would’ve liked!” he laughed.
“My golf game got a bit worse but I kept training and I just changed a few things.”
Pye thanked the medical team, particularly V8 Supercars medical delegate Dr Carl Le for the assistance when he was injured.
“Dr Carl at the track did a fantastic job – unfortunately I’ve got to know him a bit too well really!
“I’ve seen him a few times and he’s happy not to see me for a while now! He and the whole medical crew did a fantastic job t Bathurst and especially at Gold Coast looking after me and making sure I was ok and I’m sure it was the same for James [Courtney].”
HRT’s Courtney returned at the Gold Coast from broken ribs and a punctured lung, suffered in a bizarre helicopter accident at Sydney Motorsport Park.