Winterbottom calls for more Ford grunt after narrow defeat

Mark Winterbottom led 38 of the 42 laps in Race 5

Mark Winterbottom led 38 of the 42 laps in Race 5

The Nissan and Mercedes-Benz drivers aren’t the only ones calling for more power from their V8 Supercars engines in order to end Holden’s winning streak.

Ford Performance Racing’s Mark Winterbottom led the majority of Race 5 at Symmons Plains on Sunday from pole position before being bundled out of the lead by an aggressive Fabian Coulthard just three laps from home.

Holden drivers have now won all nine races held so far this year, including the four non-championship hit-outs at Albert Park.

Winterbottom has recovered to sixth in points after Symmons Plains despite a costly gearbox failure in Adelaide’s season opener.

Although the transaxle trouble still threatens to hit at any moment, Winterbottom says that a minor increase in engine performance could be all that’s needed for a breakthrough victory.

“I’m happy with how the car was, it was handling well, we just need a little bit more grunt,” said Winterbottom after Race 5.

“It’s not top end speed, it’s just a little bit, which the guys can obviously play around with on that side (further refinement of the current package).

“If we can help that a little bit I think we’re looking pretty good.”

Although clearly disappointed to miss out on breaking his 25 race winless streak, Winterbottom stopped short of criticising Coulthard for the late-race hairpin dive-bomb that left the Pepsi Max Ford to limp home second with a flat right-front tyre.

“It was one of those things that if you’re on the receiving end you’re upset and if you get away with it you’re happy,” he said of the pass.

“It’s one of those things that’ll come around at different points throughout the year that I’ll be happy and someone else will be upset.

“The move was a bomb and the fact that he drove into the steering and stopped me from having a fight back was the disappointing part.

“It would have been nice to return the favour on the next lap, but I didn’t have that opportunity, so we’ll have to wait another week and see how we go.”

Winterbottom is clearly frustrated, however, by continued claims from the Holden camp that the Ford teams had enjoyed an aerodynamic advantage prior to this year’s ‘level playing field’.

“These guys are smoking something,” he said when surrounded by Holden drivers Coulthard, Jason Bright and James Courtney in the end-of-day press conference at Symmons Plains.

“Holden won the championship last year, (so) that’s a new one.”

The V8 Supercars Championship continues next weekend in Pukekohe, New Zealand.

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