If 2015 was a year when some of the old guard occasionally fell by the wayside, then the emergence of the new generation of V8SC heavyweights ensures that the train of talent heading into top level Australian motorsport will continue running for a least a few seasons yet. Following on from our first season highlight yesterday (we won’t give it away), the emergence of Chaz Mostert as a real championship player and Scott Pye as a potential champion of the future was another defining moment of the V8SC season.
Following on from his debut season at the Pepsi Max Crew, Mostert is rapidly building his soaring reputation at PRA in a season which saw him take five race victories and his debut pole position before his horrific accident at Bathurst. Mostert’s mesmeric single lap pace saw him claim his first Armour All pole position award, securing nine more pole positions in 2015. Given that Mostert missed the last 12 races of the season, you wouldn’t have betted against him extending both his win and pole position tallies before the year was up.
Mostert’s accident was arguably also one of the defining moments in eventual champion Winterbottom’s season. With Lowndes fast approaching, the PRA trio of Frosty, Mostert and Reynolds were locked in a three way fight for the championship before Bathurst robbed Frosty of his biggest championship rival, and the fans, what surely would have been an epic duel to finish between the PRA pair. Mostert’s composure and race craft was extremely impressive all season, especially given his young age of 23 and if PRA can match the pace of Triple Eight right from the offset next season, then we could well see Mostert taking the championship battle right down to the wire.
Moving down to the other end of the gird, the achievements of Scott Pye were almost as equally as impressive, even considering his lowly position of 19th in the championship table. Drafted in at Symmons Plains to replace Marcos Ambrose, 2015 was always going to be a challenge for the 25 year old and DJR Team Penske, but the squad had matured into a confident and impressive outfit by the end of the season. A podium in New Zealand was the cherry on top of a huge learning curve for everyone involved at DJR and they will surely be one of the big movers in the hierarchy next year.
His fantastic drive to eight in race one at the Gold Coast just weeks after his horrific high speed accident at the top of the mountain at Bathurst was a testament to Pye’s commitment to DJRTP and in a year fraught with absences due to injury, a reminder of the mental and physical strength of top level touring car drivers.
Over the course of 2015, Pye and DJRTP moved from battling for positions at the back of the field, to qualifying and fighting for finishing positions within the top ten,with the squad scoring seven top ten finishes from the Gold Coast through to the end of the season. The arrival of Fabian Coulthard and the expansion to a two car outfit can only benefit Pye and DJRTP in their quest to move further up the V8SC pecking order, and if they can continue their rate of improvement from 2015, then there are a few teams higher up the pit lane who will be looking nervously over their shoulders……