Team 18 drivers Mark Winterbottom and Scott Pye secured a strong ninth and tenth place finish respectively in Race 18 of the 2023 Repco Supercars Championship, held under lights at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Despite starting from the 14th and 15th positions on the grid, Winterbottom and Pye showcased their exceptional race pace, navigating their way through the intense 15-lap contest, gaining ground with each lap.
Pye’s exceptional performance in the Hino Camaro stood out as he worked his way up to the top ten before becoming the second driver to take his compulsory pit stop on Lap 12. His early undercut strategy and speed propelled him to an impressive sixth position.
However, a late safety car with 14 laps remaining bunched up the field, and with his tires degrading significantly, Pye valiantly held on, finishing in a commendable tenth place, just one spot behind his teammate.
Winterbottom faced some early-race challenges, finding himself entangled in minor incidents. Winterbottom skilfully fought his way from 14th to a respectable ninth position, earning valuable championship points.
Sunday promises another thrilling day of action for Team 18, with Qualifying scheduled at 12:35pm followed by Race 19 at 3:30pm, live on Fox Sports and Kayo.
RESULTS & QUOTES
Mark Winterbottom, #18 DEWALT Racing Team 18 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Practice 1: 20th (1:31.7743)
Practice 2: 6th (1:30.5025)
Qualifying: 14th (1:29.8013)
Race 19: 9th (Fastest Lap: 1:32.0164)
“That was a tough race. I got beat up early and had a really good start, just seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and just got pushed back a bit, but then settled in and trucked on for that second stint.
“We, filled up quite heavy and trucked on and the pace was pretty good.
“We needed the safety car to be a little bit later for us, but all in all, I think ninth is as good as we were going to get and that was our position.
“From where we were in practice one, we made massive gains, and then practice two to quali, we didn’t get the gain that most others did, but it’s a tough track this, you get a small gain and you look like a hero.
“We fought hard, didn’t give up, and we definitely improved from where we started the day. So we’ll work hard tonight and tune her up tomorrow and go again.”
Scott Pye, #20 Hino Team 18 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Practice 1: 17th (1:31.4805)
Practice 2: 24th (1:31.6861)
Qualifying: 15th (1:30.0378)
Race 19: 10th (Fastest Lap: 1:32.1013)
“That was a really cool race, good fun.
“The first stint was, was really enjoyable. It’s cool to race under lights and a totally different experience.
“My start was okay. I lost a couple into turn one just through positioning, I was sitting around 16th, but then the first stint was really kind to me and I managed to pass a whole bunch and move inside the top 10 which really set our race up.
“We went aggressive on strategy because we knew the car was obviously very quick early, and then in the last stint we were sitting 6th but had taken an early last stop to go home and it meant we got unlucky with the safety car and a lot of other people had fresher tyres.
“We only lost a few spots but we would have been probably sixth at worst today, but got a little unlucky with the safety car and it meant that a few cars were brought up to us that probably wouldn’t have been there and got me at the end of the race and we finished up P10.
“All in all, really good race, good points for the team, a little disappointed but stoked because it was one of the best races I’ve had in a long time.
“That first stint was really enjoyable and being able to pass people on the same tyre and move forward like we did is really promising for tomorrow.”
“We were struggling with some mechanical issues at the start which weren’t mechanical as in failures but just niggling problems like the steering was a little bit left hand down and it was pulling a little bit left to right, and so we got on top of that in the first session and we had a full reset really for qualifying which is daunting because I haven’t driven the car effectively. We had a big swing and the crew and the engineers did a good job to get the car back inside the window.
“We still didn’t qualify where we want to be. Obviously we didn’t make the top 10, but the race pace I think was good and to be on for sixth and legitimately raced our way there, but all in all it was a great bounce back from where we started the morning.”