IRWIN Racing’s Mark Winterbottom and DEWALT Racing’s Scott Pye picked up a sixth place finish each in Races 27 and 28 respectively on the final day of racing at the BP Ultimate Sydney SuperSprint.
Sunday’s qualifying saw a strong turnaround in one-lap performance, as Winterbottom and Pye qualified 5th and 7th on the grid for the first race of the day. In the second of the back-to-back sessions, Pye qualified 9th with Winterbottom 13th for Race 28.
Pye was caught up in the bump and grind on the opening lap of Race 27 and suffered slight damage to his splitter, before taking an early stop for two tyres on Lap 6.
Winterbottom drove well to hold off Van Gisbergen in the early stages before a fast four-tyre pit stop by the crew on Lap 14 saw him emerge in tenth position.
Winterbottom caught Pye before charging forwards to sixth, as Pye dropped down the field while defending on old tyres and took the chequered flag in 12th position.
Race 28 started dramatically for Winterbottom, with contact from behind on the opening lap causing the rear bumper to rub on the left rear tyre. Miraculously, the guard popped back into position on the second lap allowing the IRWIN Commodore to continue on with the race.
It was a tough finish for Winterbottom, who struggled for balance and outright pace in the car to move forwards from 19th position.
The final race was a change of fortunes for Pye. He took on four tyres at his pit stop half way through the race, before charging forwards from 12th position to bring home the DEWALT Commodore in sixth.
In the points standings, Winterbottom has maintained ninth position (1542 points) in the Drivers’ Championship, as Pye rose to 13th (1387). After improving in the last two events, Pye also sits ninth in the Beaurepaires Sydney Cup (tallying the points from the four consecutive Sydney events).
In the Teams’ Championship, Team 18 has maintained seventh position (2904 points) with two events and four races remaining in the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship.
Team 18 returns to action next weekend for the Beaurepaires Sydney SuperNight on 20-21 November.
Scott Pye, driver – #20 DEWALT Racing Holden ZB Commodore
Qualifying (Race 27): 8th (1:30.0247), promoted to 7th via grid penalty
Qualifying (Race 28): 9th (1:29.6663)
Race 27: 12th
Race 28: 6th
“A pretty chaotic weekend, we got some good results with two sixth places and it was great to come away with some solid points.
“In the second race we had to sacrifice some tyres, pit early and finished 12th.
“We finished with a great result so we leave this weekend pretty positive heading into the fourth event, and the progress we’ve made over these three weekends is a credit to the team and I can’t thank them enough.
“I think the driving standards has slowly declined over the three events. We have a pretty bashed up looking race car at the end of it so the guys will have their work cut out this week to make it brand new for next week.
“It’s really enjoyable coming back to a place when you know you’re making progress and coming back with a competitive car that I can fight with.
“I’m excited to come back, hopefully we can make some improvements and be slightly further towards the front, but to qualify in the ten this weekend was huge.”
Mark Winterbottom, driver – #18 IRWIN Racing Holden ZB Commodore
Qualifying (Race 27): 6th (1:29.8640), promoted to 5th via grid penalty
Qualifying (Race 28): 13th (1:29.8013)
Race 27: 6th
Race 28: 19th
“We had a good result earlier in the day, but a tough result to end it on.
“We had some contact early I think there’s something wrong with the car as it felt really bad, so we’ll have a look at it and make it right for next week.
“I made a mistake in qually so you get that sort of contact when you’re back in the pack, but our qualifying pace in the first session was encouraging.
“We’ve got a bit of work to do this week to improve the car when we come back for the 250 kilometre races next week.”