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HomeNewsTeam 18's road from 'rock bottom' to near win

Team 18’s road from ‘rock bottom’ to near win

BRUIN Beasley pulls no punches about the state Team 18 was in when he came aboard in May.

“I think the cars were 18th and 20th (at Perth) – qualified 18th and 20th, ran around 18th and 20th – and had a big crash,” team manager Beasley reflected to V8 Sleuth.

“It was probably rock bottom at that point: morale was bad, it was just not a nice place to be.”

Team owner Charlie Schwerkolt responded accordingly, hiring Beasley as well as crew chief Dennis Huijser as John Moore headed back to Tickford Racing. The team’s problematic power steering system was brought in-house soon enough.

While Mark Winterbottom led the championship charge in ninth overall, it was teammate Scott Pye who really shone through the back half of the season.

That culminated in him seriously contending for victory in the opening leg of the VALO Adelaide 500, all over the back of race leader Cam Waters before an untimely Safety Car hindered them both.

Pye ultimately retired from the race after an incident with Bryce Fullwood, for which the Brad Jones Racing driver was penalised.

Beasley describes that race as “definitely one that got away” but also proof of the inroads they’ve made.

The Team 18 crew applaud from the pit wall. Pic: Dewi Jones

“For us, I suppose it is a bit of recognition of what we have been trying to achieve,” he said.

“We have always believed that’s where we could be and what we should be doing and we spent six months since I came onboard trying to change a few things, put systems in place, people in place to get to that point.

“So it was good to say ‘we’ve done it, we can actually do what we’re trying to do’ – it just didn’t work out.

“It is definitely bittersweet… it’s satisfying to know that we go to the new car and we can do it our way and do what we did (in Adelaide more often).”

Team 18 made a relatively late decision to take control of assembling its own Gen3 cars, as opposed to taking stock of turnkey Chevrolet Camaros from supplier Triple Eight Race Engineering.

Now, Beasley feels well-placed to hit the ground running in the 2023 Repco Supercars Championship.

Scott Pye, Mark Winterbottom, Charlie Schwerkolt and Bruin Beasley at the Supercars Gala. Pic: Mark Horsburgh

“We have got a good bunch of guys now, a lot of them who at that point (back in early May) were contemplating other careers actually stayed on and have shone,” he said.

“I think we have achieved a lot (even if) it probably doesn’t look like it.”

Next year will be Pye and Winterbottom’s fourth as teammates.

‘Frosty’, the 2015 champion, has been confirmed to drive a DEWALT Camaro, switching from his usual Irwin Tools colours.

Pye’s #20 entry rotated through various naming rights partners. Nulon, who backed his car for seven rounds, has been tipped to shift to PremiAir Racing next year.

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