Back-to-back wins give Winterbottom Championship lead
Prodrive Racing’s Mark Winterbottom has kick started his assault on the V8 Supercar championship today taking two emphatic sprint race victories’ at Perth’s Barbagallo Raceway.
The opening race of the weekend saw the Prodrive Racing Falcon’s lock out the front row of the grid, youngster Chaz Mostert taking pole position by a mere 0.0603 over team mate Winterbottom. However it was Winterbottom who made the best of his front row start getting the better of his team mate to lead into the first turn.
Hometown favourite Garth Tander became the first and only retirement of the first race when a suspension failure put a halt on his charge. Tander had been sitting fourth just two seconds adrift of Craig Lowndes in third before the race ending fault.
With many in tyre conservation mode, Winterbottom, Mostert and Lowndes were left to battle at the front of the field for the top spot, the Prodive Racing Falcon’s separated by less than a second at the head of the field.
However neither Mostert nor Lowndes were able to make a manoeuvre for the lead, Winterbottom taking the opening race win.
“We won at the Grand Prix, but everyone said it didn't count. My car was actually struggling a bit there - Chaz had the quicker car, but I got him off the line,” Winterbottom said.
“It's great for Ford fans. Every year, they support us. Normally we have some good results here, but 1-2 is as good as it gets. It's good to get the win. You need them for the confidence. “
The second race of the day was a similar affair this time Winterbottom starting from pole position alongside reigning champion Jamie Whincup.
Despite starting on the dirtier side of the front straight Winterbottom made a clear getaway leading the field into turn one.
After a stellar run which saw the Red Bull Racing driver move from twenty first to fifteenth in the first race, Whincup surprisingly was unable to emulate the same pace in race two falling two seconds behind Winterbottom in the early stages of the race.
In a surprise move Shane van Gisbergen opted to run the same set of tyres from race one in order to save a green set for the longer eighty three lap race on Sunday. The decision would come back to bite van Gisbergen though, losing all grip and running off the circuit at the second to last corner.
The Kiwi took to Twitter following the race to express his anguish after ending the race in last position.
“It sucks and [it’s] not racing playing the tyre game, but hopefully it pays back [tomorrow].”
At the front of the field Winterbottom continued to extend the lead over Whincup to over three seconds, eventually taking a convincing lights to flag win, his second for the weekend.
“That was awesome. The car was really good then, it's nice to be on pole and be able to use your speed,” Winterbottom said.
“The boys really gave it a tune-up in the gap between the races. We celebrate today, we have to turn up tomorrow. Our day will come, you just have to survive those bad ones.”
Sunday see’s the V8 Supercar field take to the circuit for a qualifying session which will determine the grid for the final eighty three lap contest.