Pye: First lap contact cost me podium

Scott Pye

Scott Pye says he would have finished inside the top three if not for contact at the start of Race 1 at the Repco Mount Panorama 500.

The DeWalt Racing driver started the Supercars season-opener from 10th behind Team 18 stable-mate Mark Winterbottom.

In the Lap 1 melee, Pye went three-wide with James Courtney and Andre Heimgartner through The Cutting, with a domino effect resulting in Pye sustaining a bent steering arm.

Pye duly returned to the pit lane to receive repairs, eventually finishing the race two laps off the lead.

Speaking with Speedcafe.com after the incident, Pye was adamant he had pace to be a podium contender.

“We have to keep our chin up because it means that we will have more opportunities – that’s what a fast car gives you,” he said.

“The result today was a top three without a doubt. We had really good speed, if we pushed I believe we would have been battling for the podium.

“For us, I felt like we could comfortably be reasonably quick. I just want to stay optimistic.

“Like I said earlier, a fast car gives you opportunities in the future, let’s not bash ourselves over what happened.

“We need to keep our spirits up because there’s still a lot of positives to come from today.

“You’re going to have those races, whether it is now or during the season at some point, it’s going to come – let’s hope that’s ours now, and we can go on and battle for the podium.”

Pye’s ill-fortune was in contrast to team-mate Mark Winterbottom, who came through from ninth to finish fourth.

Winterbottom hailed the efforts of his team during the off-season to right his Holden ZB Commodore.

“The race pace once it settled down was actually reasonable,” Winterbottom told Speedcafe.com.

“The balance of the car felt pretty average, so I know we can tune the car up easier than probably the quali car. It’s all positive.

“A few things fell our way there with people kissing the wall and shunting. It’s a good feeling being able to pass. It all feels good.

“The car, last year, wasn’t right. We did a lot of work and now it feels racey, which, I don’t want to get carried away, but it feels a lot nicer.

“Scott’s car last year ran well. My thing was a bit wounded. In fairness, my guys did a fantastic job. It got stripped.

“There were a few things that needed to be tuned up and we’ve rolled up at round one better for it.

“We need to qualify well. It just shows if you put yourself in that position, anyone races well. I feel like we’ve recruited well over Christmas.

“We’ve kept good people. Introduced new people. We’re a team that people want to come to and we’re moving up pit lane.”

Qualifying for Race 2 of the Repco Mount Panorama 500 gets underway at 10:05 local time/AEDT, followed by the Top 10 Shootout at 12:10 and Race 2 at 15:00.

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