Ford Performance Racing’s Mark Winterbottom (pictured) has bounced back from a horror start to the season by finally taking his first win of the 2010 season, winning the opening race of the Skycity Triple Crown at Darwin’s Hidden Valley circuit, successfully fending off the advances of Jamie Whincup’s Vodafone Holden.
James Courtney’s four-race winning streak had to come to an end at some stage, as the former Jaguar F1 test driver finished fifth overall in the opening race.
Starting from pole, Winterbottom led off the line, and gained a further advantage by pitting a couple of laps ahead of the chasing pack, perhaps allowing the fresher rubber to get up to temperature more effectively than his rivals. Winterbottom perhaps began to coast to the flag in the closing laps, allowing Jamie Whincup to close the gap but not get past.
The third placed finisher was the ever-improving and equally impressive Shane van Gisbergen, who took on four fresh tyres during his pit stop – as opposed to just changing the rear tyres in the fashion adopted by most of his rivals – to climb steadily through the order and complete the rostrum.
Like Winterbottom, another man who has battled a difficult season to-date has been Jason Richards. But the New Zealander has typically always driven well in Darwin, and used his nous to snatch a position in the top-ten qualifying shoot-out. Pitting early in the race allowed him to climb the order up to third, which he eventually would lose to van Gisbergen.
Race 1 Final Classification:
[Original image via Townsville Bulletin]