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MEDIA RELEASE/Team 18 – Photos: Velocity Magazine
DEWALT Racing’s Scott Pye has powered through to the top ten in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship with a sixth place in Race 27, while IRWIN Racing’s Mark Winterbottom was taken out in the opening lap carnage in the final race of The Repco SuperSprint at The Bend.
Winterbottom found gains in his qualifying setup to start 15th and 12th for Races 26 and 27, while Pye would start 20th for the first race and ninth for the final.
In Race 26, Pye picked up two spots on the first lap and moved up to 17th on Lap 3 before the pit stop window opened on Lap 5. Pye went for an earlier stop compared to his previous long opening stints, stopping on Lap 11 before rejoining in 17th position.
The DEWALT Commodore showed impressive speed after the stop as Pye powered past Holdsworth, Winterbottom, Fullwood and Courtney to finish in 13th, only one-tenth away from a top ten finish.
Winterbottom made one spot off the start to sit 14th when the pit window opened. The IRWIN Commodore was the only car to stop on Lap 9 before emerging again in 14th.
Winterbottom’s tyres faded late in the race and he dropped one position to finish 15th.
The IRWIN Racing crew made some major changes to improve their race pace and tyre life for Race 27, however Winterbottom’s race ended on Lap 1 when he was an innocent bystander in the carnage at Turn 17.
An incident in front checked up the field before Winterbottom was tagged and spun in front of the chasing pack. He was collected by a couple of cars and the damage was enough to park the IRWIN Commodore out of the race.
Starting ninth for Race 27, Pye narrowly avoided an incident ahead of him before he made his way past Jones when the pit stop window opened.
The DEWALT Commodore improved lap-after-lap as Pye caught up to the leaders, passing Waters, Mostert and Van Gisbergen before he stopped from the lead on Lap 16 and rejoined back in eighth place.
Pye got past Percat for seventh and then used his fresh tyre pace to catch and pass Heimgartner at the final corner for seventh with six laps to go, where he eventually finished.
Following his seventh place finish, Pye climbed up to tenth in the drivers standings while Winterbottom’s DNF unfortunately saw him fall back to 12th, only 16 points behind his team mate. The teams championship took a hit with Team 18 now sitting seventh in the points in a closely-fought midfield battle.
The IRWIN Racing and DEWALT Racing Commodores will remain at The Bend Motorsport Park for next weekend’s OTR SuperSprint using the shortened 3.41km West Circuit.
This will mark the penultimate event of the 2020 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship before the season finale at the Bathurst 1000 in October, where Pye and Winterbottom will be joined by Dean Fiore and James Golding as their respective co-drivers.
Scott Pye, driver #20 DEWALT Racing Holden ZB Commodore
“I’m stoked to come away in the top ten of the championship after this weekend,” said Pye.
“I was bummed that I didn’t manage to come home with a top ten in the first race today. I got a little boxed out on the final corner and wasn’t able to maximise where we should have been.
“We had good speed to qualify ninth and finish up sixth in the last race.
“I’m really proud of the team, everyone is working so hard behind the scenes.
“A real bummer for the IRWIN car today, Frosty got caught up in someone else’s accident in the last race and there’s a fair bit of damage there but hopefully it’s mostly cosmetic.
“The car is fast, we have great tyre life, and it all bodes well looking ahead to the longer race at Bathurst.”
Mark Winterbottom, driver #18 IRWIN Racing Holden ZB Commodore
“We made some changes for the last race and I felt pretty speedy on that first lap,” said Winterbottom.
“I had really good drive out of the corners where I was struggling at earlier, so we were looking promising.
“I passed Le Brocq and Reynolds at the second last corner and it looks like they have made contact and spun the car into mine, it grabbed the door and spat me sideways and then Courtney hit me at full noise.
“There’s quite a bit of damage which is unfortunate as I feel we could have been on for a much better race.
“Not a lucky weekend at all but we will regroup, keep fighting and race again next weekend.”
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