It’s sure to go down as one of the year’s best finishes, when Championship leader Mark Winterbottom crossed the line by just 0.53 seconds after an intense strategic game of tyres and late charge from Shane van Gisbergen.
After qualifying 10th and seemingly out of contention when the Pedders Chrysler Safety Car appeared, ‘Frosty’ managed to not only win the 200km dash on Dunlop soft tyres, but widen his points margin.
Ford Pepsi Max Crew’s Winterbottom, on his live chat with fans, spoke about TEKNO Autosports’ Shane van Gisbergen’s driving and why he knew finishing first would be that bit tougher once the VIP Petfoods Commodore was hot on his tail.
“He was always going to have a go,” Winterbottom told his fans of the Kiwi racer, who sits sixth in the points.
“He’s in a position where he’s driving a customer car for the team we’re battling in the Championship.
“And secondly, he is one of the most aggressive racers, so I was pretty wary of him, but it’s hard to hold someone out if your tyres are a little bit wounded and his were slightly better.
“The second last lap I did a really good lap and that maintained the gap. So I knew once that happened we had him covered – but the last corner he was never going to get in there, there was the chance he could bump me.
“He’s pretty good to race, he’s really aggressive, but he has a go when he has a go and when he doesn’t he’s got really good car control so I actually like racing him even though he’s one of the most aggressive.”
Looking back on Sunday, Winterbottom said he was unsure of whether they could win, given the unknowns around the tyre strategies.
“When I saw the Red Bull cars on hard tyres I knew I could get them in the first stint, but I had to hang on…
“Realistically we shouldn’t have won the race on that strategy – thankfully we had enough speed to make our strategy work but when the Safety Car came out the best strategy was the one Red Bull and Van Giz were on…
“To come from 10th, that’s the furthest back I think I’ve ever come from to win a race.”
While he stands by it being the best drive of his career, Frosty wanted to clarify his post-race comments when comparing to last year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 victory – his and FPR’s first win at Mount Panorama.
“The Bathurst win last year, in terms of winning a race you’d never ever choose anything other than Bathurst, but in terms of the way I felt in terms of the way I drove, I felt like it was one of my best drives and wins with the team,” the #5 driver said.
“Take away the Bathurst history and the prestige of that race, in terms of driving ability and team effort and everything, I really thought it was a special race.
“We went out on a limb, got aggressive, backed ourselves and made it work – and that’s an incredible feeling to do that and it all came off.”
The next event, the Castrol Townsville 500 – Driven by TAFE Queensland – is less than a fortnight away kicking off with Friday practice on July 4.
Winterbottom won there in 2010, and FPR recorded a one-two finish on Saturday with Will Davison leading the way. Can FPR do it again?
With more racing time at the event than ever before, the 500km meeting sees two shorter races on Saturday with 250km Sunday. Who is your pick?