IRWIN Racing’s Mark Winterbottom and Hino Racing’s Scott Pye both moved forwards to finish 7th and 11th respectively in the first race of the Beaurepaires Melbourne 400 at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.

Pye, who qualified 24th after a red flag interrupted qualifying session, was forced to start from 25th due to posting a lap outside 105% of the pole position time.

Pye immediately set about a recovery effort claiming five places on the opening lap of the race and moved upwards 11 positions by Lap 3 before pitting for softs.

Pye stalled momentarily on exit of his pit stop before rejoining the field.

Many teams who started on softs experienced blistering on the rear tyres early in the first stint, forcing those who opted to finish on softs to hang on longer and conserve the tyre over the final stint.

Pye rejoined in 15th after his stop and drove 16 laps on the soft tyre, making up four positions to finish just shy of the top ten in 11th place.

Winterbottom went for the opposite strategy and started on the soft tyre before pitting on Lap 9 for the hard compound. The team pulled off a speedy 12.7 second four-tyre stop, the second fastest of the race.

Winterbottom rejoined in ninth position and showed strong speed on both compounds. He made up two spots when other cars had to pit to change their blistered soft tyres to finish 7th.

Team 18 returns to action at Albert Park tomorrow for Races 7 and 8 of the Beaurepaires Melbourne 400.

RESULTS & QUOTES

Mark Winterbottom, driver #18 IRWIN Racing Holden ZB Commodore

Qualifying (Race 8): P10, 1:46.8599
Qualifying (Race 9): P17, 1:46.3126
Race 6: Started 11th, finished 7th (Fastest lap: 1:48.6183)

“Good result in seventh. We started on the softs and no one has done a long run the way the weekend runs here with practice. Our longest run here has only been a couple of laps before the race, so there were lots of soft tyres blistering in that race.

“We went longer than most on the softs and come in, put hards on and had really good pace on the hards to come home strong.”

Scott Pye, driver #20 Hino Holden ZB Commodore

Qualifying (Race 8): P19, 1:47.3530
Qualifying (Race 9): P13, 1:45.9790
Race 6: Started 25th, finished 11th (Fastest lap: 1:47.6124)

“There was a lot going on on the opening lap there, we made up a lot of places early on and I knew we were on for a pretty good day immediately because I could feel the car was fast relative to the cars around us we made up a lot of good places.

“In the opening laps we were bookended by a couple of cars on softs and we were on the hard compound and our pace was really strong.”

“We didn’t realise how much the soft tyres would be delaminating, so we put that on pretty early and it was really a battle of attrition. I had to really look after the tyre and nurse it towards the end of the race.”

“Very early into my stint I was notified of the tyre dramas of those that started on the soft tyre, and immediately you know you got unlucky. Unfortunately we started on the tyre that in hindsight wasn’t the best tyre to start on but we still made up 11 places, we were the highest placed finisher of anyone that finished on the soft tyre.”

“Had we started on the other we could have been on for a better result but nonetheless I’m really proud of everyone today, that’s a mega result and very fortunate to come away with the tyres hanging in there at the end.”

“To get 16 laps out of the soft tyre was pretty impressive so I’m looking forward to what we’ve got tomorrow.”