Nulon Racing’s Scott Pye scored a top ten finish in the first race of the ITM Auckland SuperSprint, as IRWIN Racing’s Mark Winterbottom gained seven spots to 11th at Pukekohe Park.
Pye carried through his top ten pace in Practice 2 this morning through to Qualifying. He made it through to the final part of the session to start Race 27 from the third row of the grid in sixth, his best qualifying effort at Pukekohe since 2016.
Pye made a decent start before dropping a position to Van Gisbergen to sit in seventh.
Pye took two left-hand side tyres in a swift pit stop by the Team 18 pit crew and jumped Van Gisbergen again to sit sixth heading into the final phase of the race.
A safety car was called with eight laps to go with Pye in seventh place. However, an issue at the Turn 8 hairpin meant Pye dropped back to bring home the Nulon Racing Team 18 Commodore in 10th.
Winterbottom battled for car balance throughout Practice and Qualifying, but found a groove come the race.
He made a fantastic start to gain four places on the opening lap and settled into a rhythm before the pit window opened on Lap 5.
Winterbottom also took left-hand side tyres and emerged in 11th position where he remained to the finish.
Team 18 are back on track on Sunday for Races 28 and 29 at 12:55pm NZDT and 4:10pm NZDT respectively, the final two Supercars races to be staged at Pukekohe Park.
RESULTS & QUOTES
Scott Pye, #20 Nulon Racing Team 18 Holden ZB Commodore
Practice 2: P8 (1:02.5122)
Qualifying: P6 (1:02.3298)
Race 27: 10th (Fastest Lap: 1:03.5566)
“We qualified sixth in the three-part qualifying which was quite tricky, so I was really happy with that.
“I had a good battle with Shane [Van Gisbergen] on the first lap but unfortunately he got me on to the straight and dropped me back to seventh which is where we stayed for the whole race except the last three laps.
“I made a mistake at the hairpin, out braked myself and dropped back three spots after the safety car restart.
“I was kicking myself, really annoyed that I made that mistake after such a long race.
“The crew did an amazing job, Krusty and everyone on this side of the garage really happy with and huge recovery by Frosty to finish up 11th which was an awesome result from where they started, so proud of everyone at Team 18.
“We’ll keep pushing hard, see if we can qualify well tomorrow and finish a few spots higher in the race.”
Mark Winterbottom, #18 IRWIN Racing Team 18 Holden ZB Commodore
Practice 2: P17 (1:02.7218)
Qualifying: P18 (1:02.3298)
Race 27: 10th (Fastest Lap: 1:03.6568)
“I didn’t get qualifying right today, the car was struggling a bit, but we drove through from 18th to 11th.
“We had pretty good pace in the race, but still looking for qualy speed. The race today proved it’s very hard to follow a car in front with aero wash, so where you qualify determines your position.
“Great to move forward but our focus is on qualifying and making sure we get further up the front. If we can, then we can race at the front.”