Home' V8X Supercar Magazine : Aug Sep 2018 Issue 106 Contents 74
“I’m still young, I’m not playing a short game here. I’ve
hopefully got another 15 years to win championships.”
So when Pye finished 12th at 2017 season’s end, while
Courtney finished down in 21st – a further 373 points
adrift – we asked the now Melbourne resident what this
did for his standing within the team and his confidence.
“There was a question mark over what I could do in
a car and when you go to a new team there is always a
period where you have to prove yourself,” he says.
“You have guys like Rob Starr, who is on my car, who’s
been around forever and has worked with guys like
Skaifey [Mark Skaife] and Peter Brock, so their expec-
tations and standards are really high.”
The Adelaide-born driver says it wasn’t until his first
Supercars win in Melbourne this year that perceptions
about what he could deliver on track changed.
“Right up until when I got that first race win at the
grand prix there is of course going to be thoughts like,
‘Can he win a race, is he good enough?’” he says. “And I
guess that is where perceptions change, when the car is
right I can do the job.”
Just as Penske had come in and turned an ailing Dick
Johnson Racing (DJR) operation around to the now-
rejuvenated category benchmark DJR Team Penske,
Walkinshaw followed suit with Andretti Autosport and
United Autosports joining forces to form Walkinshaw
Andretti United. The upturn in the team’s performance
has been almost instant. From battling to scrape into
the top 15 last year to top-10 regulars and top-five chal-
lengers this season.
“I feel like I’m in a very fortunate position to have
another shot [at success],” says Pye.
“When I came to Walkinshaw I didn’t know the poten-
tial of these new owners coming in, but by just keeping
my head down and looking after everyone I’ve stayed
inside a team now that has immense potential.”
Pye believes the Walkinshaw Andretti United combi-
nation could be on the same trajectory as what the DJR
and Team Penske merger has produced.
“I think we’ve actually got a little head start compared
to when I started with them [DJR],” he says.
“Penske had to rebuild from the ground up, whereas
as soon as I heard about our new partners I was really
excited because I knew there would be an immediate
gain. We already had great people, we just needed more
of them and we also needed resources that allowed those
great people to do their jobs. I think that is probably why
our performance has increased quite quickly.”
Proving last year’s 12th in the championship was no
fluke, Pye has spent much of the 2018 in or around the
top 10, including that first win at Albert Park.
“That win was just...I guess it was just everything,”
“For one, it meant a lot to me because of losing my
father. The biggest thing for me was that my Dad passed
away before anything came to fruition. I was still in For-
mula Ford battling to find money when he passed. He’s
missed my entire career through New Zealand, through
Europe, through DVS and also the main series.
“There were tough times when I probably needed his
support but for it all to come into place now I feel like I’m
in a great position with an amazing team and everyone
around me. It’s just he’s not getting to see that and it’s
tough. Getting that race win was just a special moment
I wish I could have shared with him.
“There had been all those tough times throughout my
career and life that can be difficult to endure on your
own... but we beat the seven-times champ in the pits,
his team and the driver so it was just a high anxiety,
high emotional day for me but certainly the most special
moment of my career.”
Now he’s in contention for wins in his sixth season in
the main game, he’s trying not to get ahead of himself.
“At the moment we are still building a foundation and
for me that is still the biggest thing with everything that
has changed with a new car, a new team and new part-
ners,” he says.
“We need to keep working on consistency and rock
up to every weekend and score points. We’re probably
not too far away where we can get more aggressive with
what we’re trying to do with the car and strategy. I’m
enjoying rocking up to every race weekend knowing
there is the potential to get podiums.
“Now that I’m a bit older I’ve learnt a lot. I feel ready
to finish in the top five in the championship and go for
the win next year. I definitely feel ready now to put it
ABOVE: Pye and his team
celebrate a breakthrough
win at Albert Park in March.
BELOW RIGHT: Walkinshaw
recruited Pye following his
departure from DJR Team
z_SX106 p72-74 Pye.indd 74
23/7/18 10:10 pm
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