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Pye and van Gisbergen’s special helmet swap

SCOTT Pye didn’t leave the Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500 with a coveted surfboard trophy, but his return home to Melbourne did include some special baggage.

Pye and Shane van Gisbergen traded helmets during the Surfers Paradise weekend, giving each a significant memento of their time together on the Supercars grid.

“Shane is one of my best mates, more so away from the track,” Pye told V8 Sleuth.

“I never really see him at the track but when we do derbies and things in New Zealand it’s always good fun, we have a lot of mutual friends.

“We’d talked about doing a helmet swap a few years ago, then last week he sent me a photo of one of his helmets and said, ‘shall we do it this weekend?’

Pye scored three podiums at Hidden Valley in 2020. Pic: Supplied

“It was cool because the one he chose was the Darwin (2020) podium helmet, where we were on the podium together. I had that one on my shelf as well, so I grabbed it and brought it over.

“I’d never done a helmet swap before, a good friend of mine is the only other person with one of mine, but it’s cool to do, and it’s good timing as well.”

The duo shared the rostrum in Race 2 of the second of back-to-back Hidden Valley events in 2020; an eight-day stretch in which Pye piled on Team 18’s first three podiums as a standalone squad.

Coincidentally, Pye was at the time driving a Triple Eight-built Commodore that van Gisbergen had raced during the previous two seasons.

Pye and van Gisbergen now both have just one event left as full-time Supercars drivers, for now anyway.

The 34-year-old Kiwi is set to move to the United States to tackle a career in NASCAR, while Pye, 33, has lost his drive at Team 18.

Pye has landed on his feet and secured a co-drive at Red Bull Ampol Racing, where he’ll almost certainly pair with van Gisbergen’s replacement, Will Brown.

It’s a deal that Pye says he did not speak to van Gisbergen about.

“It was all just communication with Jamie (Whincup),” he said. “Obviously, I’ve known those guys forever anyway. I wanted to be in the best possible seat next year and that was that.”

Pye and van Gisbergen swapped lids. Pic: Supplied

Asked if he’ll miss having van Gisbergen around next year, Pye said: “I think the sport will miss the personality, we’ve got work to do as a sport to build the profile of the younger drivers coming through.

“The sport is in good hands when it comes to talent, but household names are few and far between at the moment compared to how it used to be.

“When you lose a star like Shane and potentially others that may move on as well, we as a sport need to make it more about the drivers and the partners as opposed to manufacturers.

“Key people like Shane in the sport are what make it exciting and bring fans to it.”

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