Team 18 drivers Mark Winterbottom and Scott Pye are ready to bounce back at Symmons Plains, with a tight contest expected as Supercars returns to the Apple Isle for this weekend’s Beaurepaires Tasmania SuperSprint.
With results of fourth, 11th and 10th at the last event a month ago at Sandown, Winterbottom is confident of a return to form in the IRWIN Commodore at one of his personal favourite circuits.
In his last visit to Tasmania, Winterbottom scored Team 18’s first pole position for the opening race of the weekend, and left there with the official race lap record, setting a 51.2276 second lap to take the previous record away from his now team-mate Scott Pye.
After a promising start to the weekend at Sandown that netted an eighth place in Race 5, Pye is looking to show the true performance of the DEWALT Commodore when the lights go out in Tasmania.
Pye currently sits 14th in the Drivers’ Championship with Winterbottom in fifth, only 40 points behind second-placed Jamie Whincup.
In the team’s battle, Team 18 sits in fourth place and within striking distance of the leading pack of Red Bull, Walkinshaw and Tickford.
The first race of the weekend on Saturday will feature a unique four-part qualifying format due to the short circuit layout and the importance of having a clear lap in qualifying.
The traditional first all-in ten-minute session has been split into two five-minute sessions for opposing cars in each two-car outfit. The top eight from each session will progress into Part 2, followed by a final ten-minute session for the top ten cars to decide the grid.
The grid for the two remaining races on Sunday, traditionally using a single ten-minute session, will now also be split in half for opposing cars in each garage.
Team 18 will hit the track for three 44 lap/110km sprint races featuring a compulsory pit stop, with the first cars hitting the track for Practice 1 at 9:20am on Saturday.
Scott Pye, driver #20 DEWALT Racing Holden ZB Commodore
“We’re not quite where we want to be at the moment, we’ve had some fantastic car speed but haven’t had the results we would like to show for that,” said Scott Pye.
“We were looking pretty good at Sandown but Race 3 on Sunday in the wet didn’t go to plan and we dropped right down the order in the championship.
“We’re looking forward to going to Tassie where the team has had some good success in the past and hopefully bouncing back and starting to get the results we’re capable of with the car speed we’ve got, it’s just a matter of putting it all together on the day.
“Sandown, the way the field spread is so tight, it doesn’t take much to be eighth, or tenth or 11th on the grid in qualifying, and that’s kind of where we ended up.
“I’m looking forward to going to a place that is similar in those characteristics but with the car slightly more fine-tuned after what we learned at Sandown, and hopefully we can put together a tidy lap and be closer towards the front.
“The key to success there will be starting towards the front. If you can start in the top ten you should be on for a good weekend, and with great pace we’ve seen cars move forward there.
“It is a place where you can overtake, so if you have a fast race car you can make the most of it, but one-lap speed will be important because the field is so tight.”