Scotty Pye’s Darwin Notebook
I have just gotten home from a good weekend in Darwin. The conditions were very tough, it was mid 30’s all weekend which made tyre deg pretty difficult.
On Saturday there were two 100km races. Both of these races had to be done on the hard compound tyre. Sunday was just one 200km race with the compulsory use of two soft tyre sets. The race consisted of three stints though so at some point you would need to use a set of the old hard tyres from one of the Saturday races to get you through.
Saturday we qualified 16th and 18th. All the Ford’s except Mark Winterbottom really had a tough time. I was just .004 off of the second quickest Ford. The race was extremely difficult in that there was no overtaking. Everyone had similar tyre deg and I was one of the only cars to really move forward. I finished P15 in both races. Unfortunately though I was stuck behind Chaz Mostert in both races for a total of 70 laps but was just unable to overtake, as our speed was very similar.
Sunday qualifying was looking very good. I was p6 on the first set of tyres but on the second run I missed out by .15 and dropped to p19. We decided to start the race on the soft compound to make it through the field and try to get an advantage hoping that there wouldn’t be a safety car. This was going to plan and I was running in p8 until a very poorly timed safety car was brought out due to one of the Volvos having a jammed throttle. This really hurt us as we lost our advantage and had to go to the hard compound when everyone else was on the soft tyre. I dropped from p8 to last in two laps and had to just stick with it for 15 or so laps before I could get back onto the soft tyre to make it home. My pace on the hard tyre was actually very competitive and I stayed on the rear of the field until we all started stopping for the last stint home. We were finally back on a similar strategy to everyone else. We pitted slightly earlier though to get an undercut and I pushed hard out of the pits making my way into the top ten yet again. With four laps to go though my tyres hit the cliff and I lost a couple places before being hit off on the last lap. I lost a couple more places due to this (the other driver was penalised 25 points for the incident) and I ended up P14 for the race.
Overall it was a bloody tough battle and coming through the field twice was very enjoyable. The end result could have been better and if it weren’t for that unfortunate safety car it almost surely would have been a great result. We are getting stronger and stronger though and finished up the 3rd Ford for the weekend ahead of the other factory cars.
Townsville is next up. I am excited to get back on the first street circuit since Clipsal. Dick Johnson Racing was competitive there last year so we will be pushing hard to get a result! I look forward to keeping you all updated.