Team 18 are all set for Supercars’ return to racing next week after a successful test day for the IRWIN Racing and DEWALT Racing Commodores at Winton Motor Raceway.
The team used the day as a crucial step in their preparation for this year’s Bathurst 1000, which included practicing brake rotor changes and driver changes during their pit stop rehearsals.
IRWIN Racing’s Mark Winterbottom progressed through an extensive testing program, and was pleased with the improvements made to the balance of the car throughout the day.
Winterbottom is eyeing down his 550th Supercars race start when the championship resumes at the Bunnings Trade Sydney SuperNight.
Winterbottom’s co-driver Michael Caruso was absent from the day, but will gain some crucial miles behind the wheel in an additional drivers session at the fourth Sydney event in November.
Pye also heralded a successful day behind the wheel of the DEWALT Racing car which he shared with his endurance co-driver James Golding.
Earlier in the day Pye was stranded on track at Turn 2 with a steering problem, but the team quickly fixed the issue and got the DEWALT car back on track within 30 minutes.
With the absence of Pye’s regular race engineer Phil Keed, Team 18 Head of Engineering Richard Hollway guided Pye through the day, as Keed closely followed their progress remotely.
Golding progressed through several runs in the afternoon, as he prepares to make his sixth start in The Great Race this year.
Team 18 returns to action when the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship resumes at the Bunnings Trade Sydney SuperNight on 29-31 October, which will be shown live on Channel Seven and Fox Sports.
Mark Winterbottom, driver – #18 IRWIN Racing Holden ZB Commodore
“It was fantastic to get back in the car today,” said Mark Winterbottom.
“It felt a bit foreign doing those first laps, that’s the longest off-season or mid-season break we’ve ever had out of the car.
“By the third lap I started to feel on the pace and straight back into it.
“It’s been a good day, a big day as we had a pretty intensive program to go through and we found some really good results out of it.
“We’ll take a good test day under our belt as we head to Sydney Motorsport Park, and fingers crossed if we’re good there we’ll get four cracks at a top result.
Scott Pye, driver – #20 DEWALT Racing Holden ZB Commodore
“I was super excited to get back in the car this morning, I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited as this going to a test day at Winton,” said Pye.
“Today went quite smoothly, we had a small hiccup in the morning which cost us some track time but we bounced back and the crew did an amazing job to get the car back on track as quickly as they did.
“All-in-all the car was fast, we focussed on some Sydney setups and it also gave myself a good opportunity to practice some starts as well as our pit stops, really just to familiarise myself again with all those procedures we need to have in place to be confident going into the Sydney races.
“Jimmy [Golding] did a great job today, it’s been a long time since he’s been in the car, he did over 30 laps today so it was a great opportunity to get him in again before Bathurst.
“We missed Phil Keed today, unfortunately he couldn’t get down here from Queensland but it was amazing how the team worked with Phil remotely, and Crusty [Richard Hollway] stepped up to the plate and did a great job today.
“We’re looking forward to going to Sydney Motorsport Park and giving it our best shot in the final races of the season.”
James Golding, co-driver – #20 DEWALT Racing Holden ZB Commodore
“I had an awesome day driving the #20 DEWALT car again,” said Golding.
“It was good to be back in it after such a long break but we picked up where we left off and I quickly felt comfortable out there.
“We did a lot of pre-enduro testing with pit stops and driver changes and those sorts of things, and I felt really confident in the car.
“I’ll get another run in the car in Sydney, but so far Scott and I are progressing really well as we aim to give it our best shot at the mountain.”