Number change for Winterbottom’s 200th round

A new identity for Mark Winterbottom’s Tickford Racing Falcon

Mark Winterbottom’s Bottle-O Falcon will run with a different number in this weekend’s WD-40 Phillip Island 500 in order to mark a milestone round for the long-time Tickford Racing driver.

The FGX which normally carries #5 will switch to #200 to mark Winterbottom’s 200th Supercars championship round, which comes in his 13th season with the Campbellfield squad.

The 36-year-old debuted in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship as an enduro driver at Stone Brothers Racing in 2003, with whom he also he won the Dunlop Super2 Series that year.

Winterbottom spent the following two seasons at Larkham Motor Sport before his move to the then-factory Ford team in 2006.

Since then, he has won the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 in 2013 and championship in 2015.

“It’s good to celebrate 200 rounds in this game,” said Winterbottom.

“I’ve spent most of my career here and am proud of what the team and I have achieved in that time, but I think there’s plenty more to come.

“I feel like I’m as fit as ever and driving as well as ever, so there’s no reason we can’t have more success.

“It’d be great to come out of this weekend with something to smile about, so we’ll go out and give it a crack.”

Coincidentally, Tickford’s first race win came at Phillip Island when Craig Lowndes drove a Ford Performance Racing BA Falcon to victory in a weather-affected encounter.

Last time out at Symmons Plains, however, the team battled for pace across its four cars all weekend.

Chaz Mostert was the only Tickford driver to record a top 10 finish, and even then he was dissatisfied with the circumstances in which the result transpired.

“I’m excited to get back into the car after a tough last round in Tassie,” said Winterbottom.

“It’s been a productive couple of weeks figuring out what we need to do to improve.

“The team have put in long days to get us where we think we need to be, and I’m looking forward to getting out there and see how our preparation pays off.”

The Phillip Island 500 comes days after news that the Mustang will be Ford’s Supercars fighter in 2019.

With the single-car Matt Stone Racing and 23Red Racing teams committing to upgrade to the Mustang by way of new or converted chassis, the Falcon now has only 13 events left in the Australian Touring Car Championship, a point not lost on Tickford team principal Tim Edwards.

“Obviously we’re all excited about the news from the other day, but we can’t look at the calendar and wait for 2019 to come around,” said Edwards.

“The team have been hard at work to find a direction for our cars, and we’re confident the changes we’ve made will benefit everyone and move us closer to the pointy end.

“Everyone’s going to want to talk about next year this weekend, but the Falcon’s brought us some incredible memories, so we’ll work to start off its farewell tour with some more memories.”

Practice 1 starts tomorrow at 1125 local time/AEST.

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