MELBOURNE, Australia — Walkinshaw Racing unveiled its driver lineup for the 2017 season on Thursday, with 26-year-old Scott Pye teaming alongside James Courtney next year as veteran Garth Tander exits the team.
The re-signing of fan favourite Courtney will see the veteran continue with the team on a three year extension through 2019, pushing his tenure to nine years in total with the Ryan Walkinshaw-owned team.
Pye joins the driver roster on a multi-year deal, providing stability and continuity for the Melbourne-based squad as it transitions into a post-Holden factory team era.
As Walkinshaw Racing enters that new chapter, owner Ryan Walkinshaw said locking down the team’s drivers was the first priority.
“There will be many changes and exciting announcements for the team in the coming months and the first key element was securing competitive drivers,” Walkinshaw explained. “James has been with the team for many years, is a proven champion, and capable of many more race wins and championship challenges. He was offered substantial deals from other teams down pit lane and abroad, and we are thrilled that he decided to stay with us and be part of our exciting future.”
“On the other side of the coin, Scott brings new energy and ideas, and has demonstrated he can mix it with the best in Supercars. We’re excited to have him onboard and looking forward to what the new season has to bring.”
Not wanting to leave with unfinished business, Courtney said he wasn’t ready to give up his dream of winning a championship with the team.
“When I first came to Walkinshaw Racing I set myself the goal to win another championship with this team and I’m even more determined now to achieve that,” Courtney said. “Everyone in the team, from the engineering staff to management and commercial employees, has put a ridiculous amount of effort into preparing my car and giving me the opportunity to win races.”
“I’ve also put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this team and would hate it if I walked away from here and someone else rolled in and started getting all the success we have worked so hard for.”
Courtney said he also made a special promise to the team’s founder, the late Tom Walkinshaw.
“The first contract I signed with the team, I did with Tom … and he saw me as the guy to help bring the team back to where it needed to be, so I made the commitment to him that I would do everything I could to help him, and now Ryan, achieve that.”
“I certainly believe it’s possible to win another championship here. If I didn’t think that, then I wouldn’t still be here. I’m as loyal, committed and enthusiastic about the future of the team as I have ever been.”
During the 2016 season, Pye has proved his skill and determination by scoring his first pole position at the Clipsal 500 and a place on the podium at Phillip Island.
With a new team and new deal in place for 2017, the young standout is eager to achieve success with the Walkinshaws.
“When the opportunity came up to sign with Walkinshaw Racing it’s something I didn’t have to think too long about,” Pye said. “Since joining the championship in 2012 I haven’t really had any real continuity and I’m excited about having the next three years locked away and knowing that I will be working with the same group of people. It’s a team that has proven what they are capable of and even this year there has been some tough times, but the way they have turned it around has been impressive.”
Despite moving forward with a new lineup, Walkinshaw was quick to thank outgoing driver and team leader Garth Tander for his service and achievements with the organization.
“Garth was our longest ever serving driver and achieved an incredible amount of success for the team, including 50 race wins, 26 pole positions, 72 podiums, two Bathurst wins and a driver’s championship.”
“He will always be considered a brother to the Walkinshaw family and we wish him the very best of luck with his future.”
CREDIT: Walkinshaw Racing