Scott Pye’s arrival at Team 18 will spur Mark Winterbottom to new heights, five-time Bathurst 1000 winner Steven Richards believes.
Richards has moved from co-driving for Charlie Schwerkolt’s squad into a full-time relationship manager position, working with stakeholders including both drivers.
Pye has progressed strongly in recent years, matching up particularly well against 2010 champion James Courtney across three seasons at Walkinshaw Andretti United.
His new teammate is another ace with a series crown on his resume, and he’s expected to rise to the challenge.
“Frosty is a massive competitor himself, he’s always striving internally to reach a new level and having a young guy pushing him will definitely serve our team and Frosty better,” Richards said.
Richards would know. He and Winterbottom were Ford Performance Racing full-time teammates from 2007-10 and have seven Great Race starts together including a 2013 victory.
“The combination of their personalities, already we’ve seen great signs here at the workshop of how they’re going to work together,” the 47-year-old observed.
“There’s certainly expectation of where we think Scott fits into the team.
“We want him to be the up-and-coming guy that adds value to creating an environment that pushes both Mark and he to a new level.”
As for Richards himself, he conceded it will be strange when the time comes to visit Mount Panorama in October, having contested every 1000 since 1995.
“I’m sure it will be because I still love driving,” he said.
“I’m hoping to do some more of that in the future, just not Supercars.
“But I think by the same token, the role that Charlie has given me within Team 18 is incredibly exciting and busy, I haven’t had much time to think about not doing the enduros.
“I’m sure I will take the competitive juices of driving the car into my role within the team and try to make that a positive way to be able to help implement that and be a part of the team’s growth over the next couple of years.”
James Golding and Dean Fiore will be Team 18’s co-driver this year, working with Winterbottom and Pye respectively.