The driver you can bank on for 2021 action

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 01/02/2021
  • By James Pavey

Few drivers executed a more impressive campaign in 2020 than Team 18 recruit Scott Pye.

Pye overachieved in his maiden season with Team 18, claiming three podiums at Hidden Valley and finishing ninth in the championship.

Crucially, he finished ahead of team-mate Mark Winterbottom, albeit by just 20 points.

The #20 DeWalt Commodore couldn't be tamed at times in 2020, with Pye a standout racer fighting through the pack.

Pye was one of 10 drivers who started 13 or more races in 2020 to have a better average finishing position than where he started.

However, his 2.4 position gain per race was miles ahead of the rest. Across the 27 races, his average finishing position (10.9) far better than his average starting position (13.3).

Team Sydney's Chris Pither (1.7), Brad Jones Racing's Jack Smith (1.6), Kelly Racing's Rick Kelly (1.6) and Tickford's James Courtney (1.4) were the next best.

Pye said his team needs to improve its one-lap pace should it challenge for wins in 2021, but was pleased he was able to exercise his ruthless racecraft last season under new engineer Phil Keed.

"I'm a fan of our sport, of course. I love seeing people have a crack," Pye told Supercars.com.

"When the adrenaline is high, and the opportunity presents itself, I love to have a crack and go for it.

"I don't want to die wondering.

"There are plenty of times when you get out of the car and you feel like you could have done more. That's the worst feeling.

"I just try and make sure that whenever I get out of the car, I know I've gotten everything I possibly could out of it."

Pye's three Darwin podiums came from starts of 10th, third and eighth.

However, he left his best for the six races at the subsequent Townsville events, where gained a mind-blowing 50 positions across six races.

The #20 Holden was on a tear, with Pye jumping from 15th to ninth, 19th to ninth, 15th to sixth, 17th to ninth, 11th to sixth, and 17th to fifth.

While he fell short of claiming victory in 2020, Pye was satisfied with a season where he maximised the chance to show what he was really made of.

"I've always really enjoyed fighting with others on the grid. I feel I'm a fairly aggressive racer," said Pye, who Supercars.com listed as a 2021 dark horse.

“I don't tend to regret my mistakes over the years, I just make sure that I learn from them.

"Last year felt like it was an opportunity to put a lot of things into practise from things I've learned in the series.

"When you have a fast race car, you have to make the most of it.

"Qualifying speed clearly wasn't where we wanted it to be, but we had to be careful having too big a swing at set-up, because we didn't want to lose our strength in the races.

"The race car was great, Phil [Keed] my engineer and I really gelled. I really couldn’t have made up 50 places in six races without that car underneath me.

"Without sounding corny, I couldn’t have done it without the team. I made sure I didn’t make too many mistakes in races so I could capitalise on it.

"The mission this year to improve on qualifying. If we do that, I believe we’ll be in contention for race wins on a regular basis."

With Red Bull Ampol Racing rival Jamie Whincup predicting up to 15 drivers have a title chance, the sky's the limit for Pye in 2021.

"Wins are achievable. That has to be our goal," said Pye, who also raced to sixth in the season-ending Bathurst 1000 after starting 12th.

"Without setting high hopes, what's the point?

"We're ambitious, we're a young team, but Charlie has put together a fantastic group of people, and he's continued to add to that with [Hollway] coming onboard this year.

"I’ve got Phil coming back, my number one mechanic is also coming back for a second year, so I've got lots of continuity this year.

"The relationship with myself and Frosty is at a point where we can benefit from each other, we understand each other's direction on set-up and things.

"For us, qualifying speed was something we really started to focus on at the end of the year.

"We tried to turn that around, and the best thing about that was that we didn't affect our race car.

"I honestly think that if we can qualify in the top 10 on a regular basis, then with the pace we had last year, podiums and wins won't be unattainable."

Pye will make his competitive return at the Repco Mt Panorama 500 next month. Tickets are on sale now.

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