"I wish mum was here" — Mark Winterbottom takes emotional championship win
Prodrive Racing Australia (PRA) and Mark Winterbottom have together both claimed their maiden V8 Supercar championship titles at the Coates Hire Sydney 500.
After dual top-five performances over the two opening races, a fifth and a third respectively, an emotional Winterbottom was among many in pit lane showing tears.
"I've got a few tears under this visor mate. I'm speechless," said a shakey Winterbottom, during an interview while he was making his way back to pit lane.
"That's so good. I wish my mum was here."
"I'm numb. I'll take it all in tomorrow night I'm sure. We've fought a long time for this, and I've been with the team for a long time, and we've got it done."
Mark Winterbottom tackles the Sydney kerbs. Photo / Prodrive Racing Australia
PRA Team Manager Tim Edwards was also emphatic, after having come close to winning the series title several times in the past.
"I don't think I've taken a breath for the last half hour. Unbelievable. [...] Mark's been with me just about the whole way through — it's great to achieve this together," he said.
2015 marks Winterbottom's 12th attempt at V8 Supercars glory, after debuting in 2004. He has driven with PRA, formerly Ford Performance Racing, since 2006.
Reigning series champion Jamie Whincup was able to sweep both of the Saturday races, leaping to the lead in race one after an exceptional pit stop, while he simply looked unbeatable from the green lights to the chequered flag in race two.
"The day's about Mark, I don't want to take any shine off him. He's had a great year, he's been pretty solid. The critics had said he was choking, but credit where credit's due happily hand over the number one come tomorrow afternoon," Whincup said after race two.
Kiwis Shane van Gisbergen and Scott McLaughlin both starred across the two races.
van Gisbergen lead race one early, before losing the lead to Whincup in the pits and eventually coming home in second, over a second adrift from his soon-to-be teammate.
Shane van Gisbergen was the pick of the Kiwis. Photo / Velocity NZ
The Tekno Autosports Commodore driver ended race two in sixth, just behind McLaughlin who held onto fifth for the majority of the race thanks largely to a lightning jump from the start line.
Among those to have a tough day was James Moffat, who — on his last weekend racing for Nissan Motorsport — was involved in two incidents across the pair of races. The second, which happened as the driver was by himself, resulted in the Nissan Altima crashing over the inside kerbing at turn two and damaging its front-right suspension.
While Winterbottom has now got a points lead in the series that is greater than the margin to the second-placed Craig Lowndes, the driver could still theoretically lose the title if he were to not finish tomorrow's final race and incur a points penalty simultaneously.
While the Ford-campaigning outfit have taken the driver's championship, the teams championship still hangs in the balance between Red Bull Racing Australia and PRA, with one race to go.
1. Jamie Whincup 2. Shane van Gisbergen 3. Jason Bright 4. James Courtney 5. Mark Winterbottom 6. Tim Slade 7. Rick Kelly 8. Scott McLaughlin 9. David Reynolds 10. Fabian Coulthard
1. Jamie Whincup 2. David Reynolds 3. Mark Winterbottom 4. James Courtney 5. Scott McLaughlin 6. Shane van Gisbergen 7. Craig Lowndes 8. Rick Kelly 9. Scott Pye 10. Lee Holdsworth