Scott Pye has secured his first Supercars win on the streets of Melbourne in a race which threw up a mixed bag of results.
After a good start, the Walkinshaw Andretti United driver was able to put in a mature drive which saw him hold off the winning-most driver in championship history for his maiden win.
Scott McLaughlin added another pole position to his 2018 tally on Friday ahead of Saturday’s race, denying Brad Jones Racing’s Nick Percat his maiden pole. Scott Pye punched above his weight to put the Walkinshaw Andretti United machine in third while race two winner Jamie Whincup started from fourth.
Tim Slade and Chaz Mostert completed the top six while championship leader Shane van Gisbergen started from a lowly 17th on the grid. Cam Waters struggled too, only managing 22nd for the second last race of the weekend.
Whincup got a lightning start off the lone and was pushed on to the grass by Percat, moving up to third by the first turn while the squabble allowed Pye to move up to second, following McLaughlin on the opening tour.
McLaughlin threw away the lead at the start of lap two, locking up and running wide at turn one, dropping back to sixth and allowing Pye to take the race lead.
The front pair of Pye and Whincup opened up a three second lead to the pack early on, Percat being the cork in the bottle with Fabian Coulthard, David Reynolds, McLaughlin and Mostert being held up behind.
Mostert became the first to blink, taking his pit stop at the end of lap seven after having pace to burn but being held up behind the pack in front of him. Coulthard, Reynolds and Caruso were the next to come in, the bunch being jumped by Mostert but with fresher tyres.
Pye and Whincup pitted from the lead, McLughlin following despite having radio dramas. The leading pair emerged from the pit lane ahead of Mostert but only just, McLaughlin rejoined behind Coulthard and Caruso but in front of Reynolds.
Percat pulled in from the lead on lap 11, rejoining with fresh tyres but losing track position, effectively coming back out in fourth but again being the cork in the bottle with Coulthard and the others chasing behind.
Pye proceeded to open the gap up to Whincup, nursing a healthy four second lead with ten laps to go as the race was declared as wet due to rain starting on the start finish straight, the weather soon making its way to the far side of the track.
The rain became intermittent but heavy when it did come down, the pack being stuck on slick tyres with teams standing by in the pit lane with wet tyres.
A majority of the field blinked and pitted for wet tyres, McLaughlin being hurt due to double-stacking behind Coulthard. Mostert was the first on the road with wet tyres, only 6 laps remaining when they came out but with a massive gap to the leaders.
The gamble to take on wet weather tyres didn’t pay off as those who did couldn’t make up the positions they lost. Whincup battled to keep Percat behind him with four laps left but the pair were able to close back in on Pye when the leader went off with three laps remaining, only just retaining the lead.
Despite coming under intense pressure from Whincup and Percat in the final lap, Pye was able to retain the lead to take his first Supercars victory and the first for the newly formed Walkinshaw Andretti United team.
Whincup was only 0.26 seconds behind and Percat followed the pair to the flag. Slade, Courtney, Lowndes, Winterbottom, Waters and Mostert rounded out the top ten. Championship contenders Van Gisbergen and McLaughlin finished 11th and 13th respectively.
Image via Keith McInnes