IRWIN Racing’s Mark Winterbottom delivered a sixth place finish for Team 18 in the opening race of the VALO Adelaide 500, while Toyota Forklifts’ Scott Pye was taken out of the race during a battle at the front of the field in Race 33.

Pye qualified second for the penultimate race of the season after a spectacular shootout lap which marked his strongest qualifying effort since Pukekohe in 2016, and Team 18’s best starting position in Adelaide.

Scott slotted in behind pole-sitter Waters off the start, and quickly settled into a rhythm as the leading pair gapped the field in the first stint.

Both Winterbottom and Pye made their first pit stop under green, before an incident on Lap 38 saw both cars peel in for a double-stacked stop behind the safety car. However, both cars still required a splash of fuel to complete the minimum 140L fuel drop.

Another safety car on Lap 51 saw Pye and leader Waters come back in to top up with fuel and rejoined the field in seventh before a third safety car period on Lap 53.

Pye quickly moved into the top five on the restart on Lap 57 before he was taken out of the race two laps later when he received contact from Fullwood as he went for an overtake at the Turn 9 hairpin. 

The damage sustained by the contact from Fullwood caused a heartbreaking withdrawal for Pye and the #20 Toyota Forklifts Holden after being in strong contention for the race win.

After working his way into the top ten, Winterbottom dropped back to 17th after the double stack, before charging back through the midfield and emerged in sixth position at the chequered flag.

Team 18 returns to the VALO Adelaide 500 on Sunday for Qualifying at 10:50am, before the Top 10 Shootout at 12:05pm and the final race of the 2022 Repco Supercars Championship at 2:45pm.

RESULTS & QUOTES

Scott Pye, #20 Toyota Forklifts Holden ZB Commodore

Practice 3, 7th (1:19.4458)
Shootout, 2nd (1:19.7153)
Race 33, DNF (Fastest Lap: 1:20.4972)

“It was looking like a pretty special day today, with qualifying yesterday, making it into the shootout and then today moving forwards to the front row of the grid.

“It was looking like an unbelievable race. We got a good start, Cam got me into one but really Cam and I had so much speed and we managed to put a good gap on the field, I think at one point we were out to around nine seconds.

“We managed to put a huge amount of fuel over every other car and felt like it was going to come down to Cam and I, but unfortunately a safety car came out at the wrong time and we weren’t able to put the minimum drop in and we got screwed by that bad luck.

“We fell back in the pack. We were coming back through and made a pass for fourth, but I just got turned in on. They were out of position and tried to fight and hang on around the outside and made contact and that ended our day.

“I’m really disappointed, tough one to take today as everyone has done such an amazing job and the car was super fast.

“I felt like we could have won, it might have been a close one with Cam and I . First or second is what I had my eyes firmly set on during that race and that’s what I thought we could have achieved.”

Mark Winterbottom, #18 IRWIN Racing Team 18 Holden ZB Commodore

Practice 3, 14th (1:20.0494)
Race 33, 6th (Fastest Lap: 1:20.7642)

“Qualifying obviously was not good in 21st, but we worked our way through and got back into the top ten. 

“In the pit stop we gave it all away again back to 17th and then worked our way back up to sixth.

“There was a lot going on but sixth was a great result for us, a good fightback and the car is straight for tomorrow.

“The car was quick, we’ve just got to get track position tomorrow and hopefully we can get both cars up there. Scott was obviously very unlucky today so we feel for him in the garage but we’ll all work hard to bounce back on Sunday.”