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Pye credits Winterbottom for qualifying gains

SCOTT Pye is motivated to not waste the fast package Team 18 has given him for this weekend’s VALO Adelaide 500.

The Mount Waverley squad has been the event’s surprise packet thus far, consistently running at the pointy end of the timesheets.

That carried into Friday afternoon qualifying, with Pye putting his Toyota-backed #20 provisional third on the grid – albeit still with a Top 10 Shootout to come before today’s race.

Pye endured a shocking run of reliability and incidents through the first half of the season but has got on a roll of late, being a regular top 10 runner at Townsville, Sandown, Pukekohe and Gold Coast.

Part of that rise, he says, is the intra-team challenge provided by championship-winning teammate Mark Winterbottom which has pushed him to new heights.

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Winterbottom won the head-to-head qualifying battles in the pair’s first two years as teammates but as of yesterday, Pye has sealed that mantle for 2022.

“Qualifying has been quite good lately,” said Pye.

“It’s been something I want to focus on a lot.

“Frosty (Winterbottom) is great in qualifying, it’s been awesome to have a teammate that has really made me lift there, I think his consistency is something that I’ve had to rise to and that’s maybe where some of the performance gains come from.

“And then as a team, Krusty (Richard Hollway), we did the engineering change last year and I think it has been good, we’re starting to work really well together.”

Pye in action. Pic: Mark Horsburgh

Pye wants to make sure a positive start at his home race doesn’t turn into another bad luck story.

“I don’t like to say it’s bad luck, it just hasn’t really gone our way,” he continued.

“You obviously make your own luck and I’ve made plenty of mistakes this year which I kick myself for but all you can do is keep turning up on Saturday and Sunday and do the best job I can.

“This weekend I have got a great car so my job is to go out there, put a lap down as best I can do and maximise the car that the crew have given me this weekend because it is a bloody good car and I don’t want to waste that.

“So I have got two races this weekend, two qualifyings and I want to be at the front and try to get a trophy.”

Winterbottom will have his work cut out this afternoon, starting 21st after an issue at Turn 4 during qualifying.

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