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Bathurst recovery boosts Winterbottom’s title bid

Tom Howard

Monday 12th October, 2015 - 4:00am

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Mark Winterbottom on his way to second at Mount Panorama

Mark Winterbottom on his way to second at Mount Panorama

Mark Winterbottom praised his Prodrive team for fixing electrical issues as he salvaged a surprise Bathurst podium to boost his V8 Supercars Championship advantage.

The championship leader’s Great Race hopes took a blow when his #5 Falcon FG X developed an electrical issue which affected several components in the car, including the dash and brake lights.

Race officials spotted the brake light failure which prompted a mechanical flag.

As the team prepared a fix, Winterbottom and Owen were issued with a further 15 second penalty for not addressing the mechanical black flag within the required three laps.

The double blow saw the #5 plummet down the order before smart pit stop strategy in tricky weather conditions allowed the pair to emerge in fifth position with 20 laps remaining.

Winterbottom made the most of battles ahead to sneak into second following the final restart, shadowing Craig Lowndes home for a result which seemed highly unlikely earlier in the race.

“Not really,” said Winterbottom when asked if he thought he had a chance of scoring  podium after the electrical dramas.

“It was an interesting day and it was cool to get on the podium. Those last 40 laps were like qualifiers.

“I will go to bed happy knowing we both put everything into it and the team did an amazing job. I hopped out of it (the car) broken and when I got back in it was fixed so that was cool.

“I knew if we could get a lucky run we could get back up and with 20 to go we were fifth but I couldn’t catch Craig so that was the result.

“It was a special day and good for Chaz (Mostert) too. I know he was watching and wanted us to win but this was as good as it could get.”

Winterbottom admitted the championship wasn’t on his mind during the race with the lure of a second Bathurst victory difficult to resist.

However, reflecting on a second place finish which could so easily have turned into a retirement, the 34-year-old says the result is a boost to his title prospects.

The 2013 Bathurst winner has extended his championship lead to 399 points over Lowndes, who has emerged as his nearest rival.

“I wasn’t thinking about the championship, if I was I wouldn’t have come in and put slicks on because it was sketchy (with the track still damp),” he said.

“I just wanted to get back up and have a crack at the win.

“It could have been a massive turnaround (in the points). I had power out on the dash and everything so that could have been game over at that point.

“It could have been disastrous if we didn’t finish but when you finish second it is only a 30 point difference so you have got to be happy with that for sure.

“I just wanted to win it and it is not until you get home and look at the points that you realise it is a good result.

“We salvaged something out of a situation that looked quite bad.”

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