Pither hunting for 2017 Supercars slot
Supercars Championship driver Chris Pither has said that the reported news of Super Black Racing's departure from Prodrive Racing was a surprise.
“It was a little bit out of the blue I guess, and in some ways it's disappointing,” he told Driven.co.nz.
“Obviously I was hoping to continue as we were. [...]At this point I've got nothing organised, so that's quite worrying. It's definitely nervous times.”
The New Zealander, and the future of his all-Kiwi squad has been put under the spotlight after it was reported earlier this week that former Team BOC pilot Jason Bright would be taking over Prodrive Racing's fourth entry — leaving Pither and his team up in the air with just one round remaining in the 2016 season.
After an up and down season, Pither sits 19th in the championship points — having hoped that continuity with SBR would help improve his form looking towards 2017.
“Coming to the end of my first season, I really want to try to stay in the same team, same environment. That's obviously the best way to grow.
“You start to build a relationship with your engineer, and the way you communicate with your engineer so that they can understand what you need out of the car.
“You need that two to three years really to start to consistently be at your potential. I think this year we've had a few glimpses that show we can be up the pointy end. Obviously that pole at Queensland Raceway was a bit of a confidence booster for me, but we've been a little bit inconsistent.”
Despite the situation unfolding late in the year, Pither remains determined to secure a full-time slot for 2017 — with a preference for continuing to work with Super Black Racing.
“I'm hunting around as much as possible to gain opportunities to try and piece something together so we can stay on the grid for me, [and for] Super Black Racing.
“Tony and Emily Lentino gave me the opportunity this year to fulfil my dream and step up to the championship, and I'm very grateful for that. The connection with the whole Super Black vision is something that I really enjoyed and want to try and continue if I can.”
However, the former V8 Ute champion wouldn't rule out pursuing other avenues — including stepping into a co-driver role or competing in an alternate series like the Australian GT Championship.
“I definitely look at all options. Supercars was definitely the dream, but I just want to be in something racing something. I'm not going to be too picky, I just want to make sure I can continue to be in a race car next year and hopefully continue to improve. That's the main thing.
At this point I haven't talked to anyone about stepping back into a co-driver position. But potentially it might be an option if I can't get something done to stay in the series full time. Being a co-driver would probably be the next best option.”
Pither is among a host of Kiwi motorsport stars who are currently in Auckland for tonight's inaugural Legends of Speed event at Vector Arena. Other drivers present include Scott Dixon, Hayden Paddon, and the remainder of the full-time Supercars Championship contingent.
“Coming home's always good. It's a really cool to see all the motor racing talent that New Zealand has all in the one place. It really emphasises how well New Zealand really goes in the motorsport arena.
“It's going to be a great night.”