Winterbottom: Bathurst’s new Glenn Seton?
Those who have won The Great Race will tell you that the achievement is one of their career highlights. For those who have not won, it remains the one that breaks their heart.
On Sunday at Mount Panorama, Glenn Seton retired from V8 Supercars competition. CLICK HERE for that story.
For most of his career, Seton was known as one of Ford’s leading men – always competitive, but never a Bathurst winner.
Is Mark Winterbottom the modern day Seton?
The Ford Performance Racing driver went to Mount Panorama this year on a high. He’d taken race wins of late, a podium at the Phillip Island 500 and on Saturday at Bathurst, he grabbed pole position.
In his eighth attempt at Bathurst glory, race day pulled at WInterbottom’s heartstrings again. While in a competitive position, ‘Frosty’s’ co-driver Luke Youlden suffered a delaminated tyre, pitching him into the concrete wall at The Cutting.
The car was bent from the impact. How it wasn’t out of the race was almost unbelievable, and how the pair was able to finish the race in ninth place saved Winterbottom’s championship challenge from a premature end.
“I’m disappointed obviously,” he said after the race.
“We’re always coming here in a good position and something goes wrong but it was a good fightback to come back through and get a top 10 – which is still an achievement around this place.
“Towards the end the car was far from flash and I was fighting with understeer, Add to that fading brakes and it was a tough car to drive.
“We still got some points to make sure the championship is still alive but a good result here would have really put some pressure on Jamie (Whincup) and James (Courtney). With them finishing right up there it definitely hurts the points tally.”
While Winterbottom has not won a race, he is not alone. His team Ford Performance Racing, also in its eighth year at Bathurst, has not won either.
Team principal Tim Edwards told Speedcafe.com.au that it is a race that he wants to win – sooner rather than later.
“If you ask half my guys, they wouldn’t have slept the night before the race – it’s that kind of race,” he said.
“It is the race you watched as a kid. Of all the races we go to, there’s nothing that comes close to winning Bathurst.”
Edwards says that strategy-wise, the #5 Orrcon Steel FPR car was in a strong position.
“We were running our own race at the start,” he said.
“We set ourselves a goal with lap times, and if we could draft someone to save fuel, we would. We wanted to be in the race for the last 30 laps, not the first 30 laps.
“Everything was OK until the tyre delaminated, spitting us into the wall, bending the steering.
“From there, we just soldiered on for the rest of the day after we lost a couple of minutes trundling around with a bent car.”
All three FPR cars made it to the finish line. The #6 Steve Richards/James Moffat entry finished 11th while The Bottle-O Racing car (Paul Dumbrell/Dean Canto) ran 14th lost ground in the closing stages after being very marginal on fuel.