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Albert Park Supercars: Pye holds off Whincup in wet thriller

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Albert Park Supercars: Pye holds off Whincup in wet thriller
By:
Mar 24, 2018, 8:56 AM

Scott Pye held off Jamie Whincup to take a thrilling first Supercars win in mixed conditions at Albert Park.

The Walkinshaw Andretti United driver had plenty to deal with on his way to both he and the re-branded team's first win, with a dominant performance across the first two thirds of the race almost undone by a late rain storm.

But Pye did enough to secure 0.2s win over seven-time champion Whincup after a slick-tyre drag race to the flag in almost dark, still damp conditions.

Pye found himself in the lead of the race on the second lap, having jumped already jumped Nick Percat at the start, before being gifted first place when Scott McLaughlin went skiing through the grass at Turn 1 the second time around.

That left Pye and Whincup as the clear leaders, the WAU driver keeping the Red Bull Holden at bay to the tune of just under half a second over the first nine laps.

Both leaders made their sole stop on Lap 10, which proved to be the break Pye needed. He managed to not only hold onto the lead, but come out with a handy little margin, which quickly translated into a three-second gap.

Pye then looked to have the second stint under control and be on his way to a comfortable first Supercars win – only for the heavens to open with nine laps to go.

While a number of contenders opted to pit for slicks, Pye rolled the dice and stayed out. It meant a dicey run to the flag, Pye battling the greasy conditions on a slick tyre in a bid to hold on to that win.

While he initially had no pressure from behind, the challenge was keeping the car on the track. And with two laps to go he almost threw it away, a half-spin at Turn 13 costing him three seconds and letting Whincup get right under his rear wing.

The pair went at it right to the flag, but even the seven-time champion couldn't deny Pye an emotional victory.

"I'm just speechless. It's a really special moment," he said.

"I was trying to hang in there.

"I just wanted to push out of the pitlane and try and pull away so we could manage the tyres. The car was mega in the dry, but in the wet we fried the rear tyres a little bit.

"It was good fun now that I reflect on it, at the time I was hating every moment of it. Mega race, I couldn't be happier right now."

Percat wasn't far off the top two at the end either, finishing just a second behind Pye in third. Tim Slade capped off a good day for Brad Jones Racing with fourth.

James Courtney finished fifth, benefitting from staying on slicks being ultimately the right call, followed by Craig Lowndes and Mark Winterbottom.

Out of the early front-runners that made the decision to take on wets at the end, Chaz Mostert ended up best-off in 10th. Fabian Coulthard was 12th, while Shane van Gisbergen, who looked to have turned 17th on the grid into a Top 10 finish before the rain arrived, was 13th at the end.

Polesitter McLaughlin, who slipped back to sixth after that early off, wound up 15th thanks to making the extra stop for wets.

PosDriverCarTime/Gap
1 australia Scott Pye  Holden Commodore ZB 52'16.7559
2 australia Jamie Whincup  Holden Commodore ZB 0.2612
3 australia Nick Percat  Holden Commodore ZB 1.0259
4 australia Tim Slade  Holden Commodore ZB 5.5405
5 australia James Courtney  Holden Commodore ZB 9.5620
6 australia Craig Lowndes  Holden Commodore ZB 11.7756
7 australia Mark Winterbottom  Ford Falcon FG X 16.8545
8 australia Will Davison  Ford Falcon FG X 22.2170
9 australia Cameron Waters  Ford Falcon FG X 26.7729
10 australia Chaz Mostert  Ford Falcon FG X 39.8085
11 australia Tim Blanchard  Holden Commodore ZB 42.4173
12 new_zealand Fabian Coulthard  Ford Falcon FG X 44.8334
13 new_zealand Shane van Gisbergen  Holden Commodore ZB 46.8289
14 australia David Reynolds  Holden Commodore ZB 48.0531
15 new_zealand Scott McLaughlin  Ford Falcon FG X 1'02.6140
16 australia Michael Caruso  Nissan Altima 1'04.9708
17 australia Rick Kelly  Nissan Altima 1'05.6160
18 australia Todd Hazelwood  Ford Falcon FG X 1'08.7765
19 australia Lee Holdsworth  Holden Commodore ZB 1'11.1850
20 australia Anton de Pasquale  Holden Commodore ZB 1'16.2410
21 new_zealand Andre Heimgartner  Nissan Altima 1'19.0088
22 australia Jack Le Brocq  Holden Commodore ZB 1'21.3932
23 switzerland Simona de Silvestro  Nissan Altima 1'25.1738
24 australia James Golding  Holden Commodore ZB 1'54.6767
25 new_zealand Richie Stanaway  Ford Falcon FG X 1'55.6585
26 australia Garth Tander  Holden Commodore ZB 1 lap
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