WHEN Scott Pye was 13-years-old, he watched on in admiration as Marcos Ambrose claimed the V8 Supercars drivers’ championship for the first time.
As Ambrose backed up that success with another championship the following year before heading to the United States of America to race on the NASCAR circuit, Pye was driving karts and Formula Ford.
But now both men are poised to share the wheel of the #17 DJR Team Penske Ford in the Bathurst 1000.
Even though the pair have spent plenty of time together in the garage this year and competed together in the Sandown 500, it is a situation which excites Pye.
“It’s surreal, I guess when you grow up watching someone and looking up to someone, to drive with them it’s like that,” Pye said.
“Since he’s been out of the car he’s been playing a bit of a role mentoring me and he’s been around the garage. His excitement is stepping up now and certainly not a single thing is missing in our preparation.
“To be with someone you have looked up to for such a long time, and someone who is such an icon of the sport at Bathurst, and he probably feels like he has some unfinished business at Bathurst, is amazing.”
Aside from what he has done behind the wheel, Ambrose has given Pye additional reasons to feel confident heading into the Great Race.
At Sandown Ambrose told media his co-driver “doesn’t need to be told what to do, he’s pretty damn good.”
The two-time champion also agreed that Pye, who replaced him after the opening round at Clipsal and has since notched up six top-10 finishes, should be the lead driver for the endurance rounds.
“Marcos put me there because I am fresher and I’ve had the preparation, that he has put me as the main driver is a massive compliment,” Pye said.
“Not only that, but to be with DJR [Dick Johnson Racing] and driving for Roger Penske as well.
“To drive for Roger Penske is on a lot of drivers’ to do list, so I am fortunate to do that at such a young age. So I have ticked that box, and the other thing on the list is to drive for DJR and I’ve done that too.”
This year marks Penske’s first venture into the V8 Supercars series, but he is arguably the most recognised man in American motor sport.
He has been racing and winning in the United States since 1958, and Pye is keen to add a Bathurst 1000 crown to his list of achievements.
Neither Pye or Ambrose, who have eight Great Race starts between them, have tasted success in the Mount Panorama endurance epic.
With Pye sitting 19th in the drivers’ championship, he sees winning Bathurst as a way to make his season a success.
He was running as high as fourth at Mount Panorama last year before being forced to retire on lap 70 after blowing a tyre and crashing.
“There are probably a lot of drivers who said they should have won that race [last year], so I am not going to say that ... but I am probably the unluckiest in pit lane, so I am looking forward to turning that around,” he said.
“If you don’t have a championship, you are going to have Bathurst as a pretty big goal.