Pye reflects on emotional journey to career highlight

Tom Howard

Sunday 25th March, 2018 - 4:00am

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Scott Pye and the Walkinshaw Andretti United team celebrate a breakthrough win

Scott Pye was overcome with tears after scoring a breakthrough Supercars win that triggered an outpouring of emotions as he recounted a rollercoaster journey to the top step of the podium.

The Walkinshaw Andretti United driver delivered arguably the drive of his career to date as he held off seven-time Supercars champion Jamie Whincup in challenging wet conditions to score a deserved maiden win at Albert Park.

Pye dedicated the win to his late father, Robert, who was a driving force in his career before he succumbed to lung cancer in 2009.

The South Australian has led an eventful life and is lucky to be alive after suffering 23 broken bones in a road car crash that left him in a coma for four days when he was 13-years-old.

Those were among the moments that came flooding back when he took the chequered flag as a winner for the first time in Supercars on Saturday night.

“It was emotional. I was in tears the whole in-lap, I barely used the radio,” said Pye when speaking to Speedcafe.com.

“It was just one of them moments where I’ve had 10 years, starting with my Dad passing away and even before that my road car accident and things.

“Everyone’s families work hard behind the scenes to make sure that we get the privileges and get to go racing on the weekend.

“I think that it’s a very special moment and certainly one I’ll remember forever but I think for me this one’s for my Dad.”

The 2010 British Formula Ford champion has endured a turbulent six-year stint in Supercars, which began full-time in 2013 when he joined Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport, after finishing as runner-up in the 2012 Dunlop Super2 Series.

A difficult initiation followed, highlighted by heavy crashes at Symmons Plains and Barbagallo Raceway, with his only top 10 arriving at Bathurst on the way to 27th in the standings.

A move to the struggling Dick Johnson Racing followed which then morphed into DJR Team Penske, where he initially lost his full-time drive to Marcos Ambrose in 2015, before replacing the Tasmanian, who elected to step back from full-time driving.

He almost lost his drive again the following year before the team chose to expand to two cars, where he was joined by new signing Fabian Coulthard.

However, Pye found himself back on the driver market for 2017 when he joined Walkinshaw Racing after he was replaced by Scott McLaughlin.

Now able to call himself a Supercars race winner, the 28-year-old believes he has finally proved his talent.

“To get my first win, it’s a big monkey off the back if that’s the saying and I think I can go forward now having proved what I can do, especially under pressure,” he said.

“The circumstances are never going to be tougher than they were there with someone like Jamie (Whincup) behind me and it was dark.

“It was raining, and a very tricky circuit as well, so I think that going forward, hopefully now that should prove what I can do.

“I’m very grateful that the guys have given me a car now that allows me to show what I’m capable of.

The success also drew a massive statement from team co-owner and McLaren F1 boss Zak Brown, who labelled Pye’s efforts as “as good a drive as I’ve ever seen” after the race.

“That’s a very nice compliment and one I’m very grateful for, so I hope that I go out tomorrow and put on a good show again,” added Pye upon hearing the comment.

While the win has a special personal meaning to Pye, he recognises the importance of the triumph for the new Wakinshaw Andretti United squad.

The victory ended a winless run for the former factory Holden team which stretched back to the 2016 Sandown 500 with Garth Tander and Warren Luff.

Last season the operation endured one of its most dismal campaigns, finishing seventh in the teams’ standings.

“It’s been a long road, we’ve all worked very hard, and I think as a team we’re all just gelling really well,” he added.

“I get on with James (Courtney), I get on with my engineers, all the mechanics are absolute legends.

“I think that now that we have people working alongside Ryan and Martine (Walkinshaw, team owners) as well, with all those guys with United Autosports and Andretti Autosport, I think it is just going to boost what potential is already in this team.

“It’s going to allow all these fantastic people to do their jobs properly and get the results that they deserve.”

Pye will start today’s final race of the Coates Hire Supercars Melbourne 400 from fifth on the grid.

Speedcafe.com has been established to provide a daily motorsport news service to the industry and fans in Australia and internationally.

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