He didn’t win, but by hanging on in the frantic final stages at Symmons Plains, Mark Winterbottom has breathed new life into his V8 Supercars title defence.
The Prodrive Racing man was slumped in 11th place in the standings heading into the final day of the Symmons Plains meet.As the laps ticked down on the 200km race, he was still staring at a 100-point deficit behind race and series leader Shane van Gisbergen.
But a dramatic oil slick - caused by teammate Cam Waters - threw the race into turmoil.Van Gisbergen was sent spiralling into the gravel and Jamie Whincup was lucky to finish after skating off the track. Others weren’t so lucky.
Winterbottom survived by a hair’s breadth, losing just one position to take third behind Stephen bradbury-esque winner Will Davison and Craig Lowndes.Davison emerged the series leader but Frosty was back in the mix and delighted.
“It’s a bizarre sport,” he said.
“One week you’re nowhere and the next week you get a gift of gold.”
Up he jumped in the championship standings, to fourth place and just 39 points behind new leader Davison.
There are plenty of races to run in the series but Winterbottom said he was already feeling the pinch.”(First it’s) 100 points, then 150, 200. (The gap) can drag out quite quickly,” he said.
“I’m rapt to be back up to fourth. There’s going to be a lot of jostling but you have to be up there.
“It’s definitely good to back in the mix.”
Even better for the career Ford driver is renewed confidence in the car.His Falcon battled gamely with van Gisbergen for 80 of the 84 laps, taking it up to the super-quick Red Bull Holden.
Winterbottom said he was keen to get to the next meet at Phillip Island in a fortnight’s time and spectators would be too.
“Anyone at home who watched that and wasn’t impressed would be hard to please,” he said.
“We had some good battles, banging doors ... a few bump passes.
“When you get that car nice you can returns serve.
“It’s good for the confidence. Good for everyone.”