Mark Winterbottom has become the sixth different race winner of the 214 V8 Supercars Championship season to-date, closing out the Winton 400 with victory in Sunday’s feature race.
The Ford Performance Racing driver showed great improvement over the weekend to move into second place in the Drivers’ Championship standings on 673 points, just 28 points adrift of current leader Craig Lowndes.
Winterbottom made an outstanding getaway from the second row of the grid at the start, but found himself craftily boxed in by pole-sitter Scott McLaughlin on the short run to the first corner and had to slot into third behind Shane van Gisbergen’s Holden.
While McLaughlin quickly skipped away to build an early lead in his Volvo, van Gisbergen created a freight train for the first five laps before Winterbottom finally forced his way by the New Zealander.
The Tekno Autosport driver was clearly struggling for grip early on, and within a lap he found himself shuffled down over a dozen places before electing to make an early pit stop for fresh tyres.
Free of the chasing pack, Winterbottom set about closing down the gap to McLaughlin, who’d perhaps been too hard on his tyres in the opening laps. After a pursuit lasting over a dozen laps, the Ford driver eased his way past McLaughlin to assume the lead.
The pair pitted a lap later and left in the same order – although McLaughlin found himself emerging behind a yet-to-pit Tim Slade – but hopes of their battle continuing were dealt a blow when McLaughlin was ordered through the pits for a drive-through penalty after he was clocked speeding in the pit lane during his first stop. That ruined his race and consigned him to a distant sixteenth-placed finish.
Out in front, Winterbottom wasn’t going to have it all his own way, with Race 1 winner Fabian Coulthard finding his second tyre set to his liking. The Holden driver quickly closed up on Winterbottom and the pair made their second pit stops nose-to-tail, only for Coulthard to cop a drive-through penalty for speeding as well.
Coulthard’s penalty promoted James Courtney to second place, but he was unable to match or better Winterbottom’s pace and ultimately finished almost ten seconds adrift. Slade, his Walkinshaw Racing stablemate, finished third on his alternative tyre strategy to earn his first podium finish of the season.
Jason Bright and David Renolds finished in close company after a tight battle in the closing laps for fourth and fifth place, with Reynolds’ FPR stablemate Chaz Mostert in sixth, three seconds behind.
Lowndes finished in seventh to consolidate his points lead after a tough weekend for the Red Bull Racing squad – teammate and reigning champion Jamie Whincup was tenth.
The field now has a three-week break before they cross the Tasman to contest the Auckland 500 at Pukekohe Raceway over the ANZAC Day long weekend.
2014 V8 Supercars Winton 400 – Race 3 Results (67 laps):
|Driver||Team / Entry||Result|
|1.||Mark Winterbottom||Pepsi Max Crew FPR / Ford Falcon FG||1:36:23.443|
|2.||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team / Holden Commodore VF||+ 9.491|
|3.||Tim Slade||SuperCheap Auto Racing / Holden Commodore VF||+ 10.775|
|4.||Jason Bright||Team BOC / Holden Commodore VF||+ 19.758|
|5.||David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team / Ford Falcon FG||+ 20.457|
|6.||Chaz Mostert||Pepsi Max Crew FPR / Ford Falcon FG||+ 23.914|
|7.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing / Holden Commodore VF||+ 25.368|
|8.||Michael Caruso||Nissan Hornets / Nissan Altima||+ 27.119|
|9.||James Moffat||Nissan Hornets / Nissan Altima||+ 27.402|
|10.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing / Holden Commodore VF||+ 31.874|
|11.||Fabian Coulthard||Lockwood Racing / Holden Commodore VF||+ 33.616|
|12.||Shane van Gisbergen||TEKNO VIP Petfoods / Holden Commodore VF||+ 34.197|
|13.||Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Altima||+ 37.291|
|14.||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Altima||+ 37.524|
|15.||Lee Holdsworth||Erebus Motorsport / Mercedes E63 AMG||+ 39.378|
|16.||Scott McLaughlin||Valvoline Racing Polestar GRM / Volvo S60||+ 40.706|
|17.||Nick Percat||Walkinshaw Racing/ Holden Commodore VF||+ 52.021|
|18.||Will Davison||Erebus Motorsport / Mercedes E63 AMG||+ 56.146|
|19.||Scott Pye||Wilson Security Racing / Ford Falcon FG||+ 57.023|
|20.||Russell Ingall||Repair Management / Holden Commodore VF||+ 57.833|
|21.||Jack Perkins||Jeld-Wen / Ford Falcon FG||+ 1:14.765|
|22.||David Wall||Wilson Security Racing / Ford Falcon FG||+ 1:17.905|
|23.||Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team / Holden Commodore VF||+ 2 laps|
|24.||Robert Dahlgren||Valvoline Racing Polestar GRM / Volvo S60||+ 3 laps|
|25.||Dale Wood||Team ADVAM / Holden Commodore VF||+ 3 laps|
Image via V8 Supercars Championship Media