Pye out to recapture Darwin form

Scott Pye scored three podium finishes from six races last year in Darwin

DeWalt Racing driver Scott Pye has high hopes he can repeat last year’s podium performances at the Merlin Darwin Triple Crown this weekend.

After a slow start to the 2020 season in which he had just one top 10 finish in the eight races prior to the Darwin double-header, the Team 18 pilot found form at Hidden Valley Raceway.

What followed was a third place finish to open his account – the first for Team 18 as a standalone outfit in Supercars – before claiming back-to-back third place finishes one weekend later.

Those three performances remained his best of the year, but following the Darwin events he would claim seven straight top 10 finishes on his way to ninth in the championship.

Ahead of this weekend’s three-race weekend, Pye declared he wants to be fighting at the top end of town again.

“It’s a circuit where we’ve had good success in the past,” said Pye.

“We had a fantastic couple of weeks there last year when we achieved the team’s first podium, and to repeat that with two more the following weekend was unreal and unexpected at the time.

“Darwin has been up and down for me in the past but going off last year it’s a circuit I’m looking forward to going back to.

“But we all start back at square one so we’ll put our best foot forward in practice and try and come out with a good qualifying car and race forward from there.

“Certainly, Darwin is one of my favourite places on the calendar.

“It’s a fantastic circuit and the atmosphere is unique, the fans get behind it and it makes it an enjoyable place to be.”

This weekend will mark the racing debut of Dunlop’s new super soft compound tyre.

The new tyre will be grippier but suffer significant tyre performance drop-off at the end of a stint.

Last year Pye gambled on pit strategy, which netted him one of his podium finishes with a late comeback through the field.

Strategy could well be a factor again this weekend.

“Hidden Valley is a place in the past where the temperature is so hot that you’ve only got one lap to get your lap done in qualifying, otherwise you’re starting down the back,” Pye explained.

“In the race, the super soft tyre should offer up some good opportunities to move forward.

“Strategy-wise for us last year we went early and went long and we managed to make both work.

“The degradation will be a lot higher and it will be easier to overtake, so potentially a late stop and coming home strong could be the key.”

Pye currently sits 13th in the Repco Supercars Championship with four top 10 finishes to his name.

The Darwin Triple Crown takes place across June 18-20.

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