DEWALT Racing’s Scott Pye and IRWIN Racing’s Mark Winterbottom are ready to bounce back from a challenging first event of the Townsville double-header, when they return to the Reid Park Street Circuit for this weekend’s WD-40 Townsville SuperSprint.
Pye suffered his worst round of the season to date last weekend, with a series of unfortunate incidents resulting in finishes of 23rd and 21st and multiple laps down on the field.
In the first race, Pye demonstrated strong race pace from 12th on the grid and was tracking towards a top five finish before he suffered a rare steering arm failure at the Turn 7-8 chicane following his final compulsory pit stop.
In the second race, he was an innocent bystander to an incident on the opening lap when he was collected by another car and had to pit early for repairs.
Following on from a heating issue in Race 13 and a jammed wheel nut during a pit stop in Race 14 in Darwin, Pye has dropped to 16th in the championship standings, but remains upbeat with a strong showing of speed at recent events.
Last weekend in Townsville was a challenging affair for Winterbottom after qualifying 21st for both races. He climbed 11 spots to finish tenth in Race 15 on Saturday, before struggling with car balance to finish 16th in Race 16 on Sunday.
The second leg of the back-to-back events in North Queensland will feature three 110km sprint races, rather than the 2x 250km format that featured at the NTI Townsville 500 last weekend.
The benefit of the double-header format has allowed both Pye and Winterbottom to work hard with the Team 18 engineering group between events to analyse their data from the weekend and optimise their car setup and performance for the shorter sprint races this weekend.
Refuelling has been removed from the races, with a single compulsory pit stop returning with a minimum two tyre change.
The format will mirror that used at Sandown, Symmons Plains and The Bend, however a Top Ten Shootout will replace the third-part of qualifying for Race 17 on Saturday. The grid for Sunday’s two races will be determined by a single ten-minute session each.
Track action begins on Saturday with Practice 1 at 11:35am local time, before Race 17 of the championship at 4:45pm. Races 18 and 19 on Sunday will start at 12:45pm and 3:40pm respectively.
This weekend’s action can be viewed both days live on Fox Sports 506 and Kayo Sports, check your local guides for further details.
Mark Winterbottom, driver – #18 IRWIN Racing Holden ZB Commodore
“We’ve had to work hard this week to get the car back to where we need it to be,” said Winterbottom.
“I’m really excited to get back on track, normally we have to wait 12 months to come back and redeem a tough weekend, but we’ve only had to wait five days to go again here in Townsville.
“Although the SuperSprint format is a shorter race weekend, it allows for more strategy to take place.
“It seems odd on the surface, but with the way the fuel numbers work out and the tyre allocation, the longer races tend to make the strategy more conservative.
“We weren’t good enough last weekend, the pressure is on to turn it around but I know I’ve got the team behind me to do it, so hopefully we have a quick car that should put us somewhere in the mix again.”