Chris Pither’s return Supercars season has been one of ups and downs. But, in light of a recent upswing in results, the Kiwi says he’s feeling more excited and motivated about the series.
Pither’s season started on a unique note, following widespread rumour that his Team Sydney squad wouldn’t make it to the grid — followed by the delayed announcement that he would be driving with the new team and then the sudden announcement that teammate James Courtney would be leaving the team after just one round.
After six rounds (not including Albert Park), Pither sits 22nd in the series standings — 26 points south of series sophomore Macauley Jones. The former Super2 champ often finds himself battling on the edge of the top 20, but hopes to start threatening the competitive battle for the top 15 and top 10 as the series progresses.
“In the races, I have been relatively happy… but again we just lack that peak when the tyre is brand new, which is hurting our qualifying,” said Pither in an interview with Supercars.com.
“I’m excited by the fact that we do have that pace in the race because I know that if we can improve our qualifying position – even if we can get up into the top 15 or close to the 10, I feel quite confident that we can race there easily. So that’s the motivation, that exciting aspect of it. It’s sometimes easier said than done but that’s definitely the focus going forward.”
Pither enters this weekend’s Robson Civil Projects Townsville SuperSprint in good spirits after coming off a stellar 11th-place finish at last weekend’s opening race. An exciting last lap scrap almost saw him break into the top 10. It would have been his second top 10 of the season, after he scored a fifth at the opening Darwin race.
One of Pither’s key strengths are his starts. Of the last six races he has made positions on the opening lap five times. “I’m starting to feel like I’m getting a better process and feel for the car and the clutch,” he said. “It’s a relatively detailed thing to get these cars off the line well and each car seems like a different technique, so I’m starting to get my head around that better now.”
“It’s always tricky with the opening laps, you have got to try to pick your car placement well and if you get checked up on the first lap and lose momentum, you can dump a whole lot of spots or gain a whole lot of spots.”