Chaz Mostert has hailed the ‘massive influence’ Mark Winterbottom has had on his career while admitting the 2015 champion’s departure will leave a ‘big hole’ to fill at Tickford Racing.
Mostert has paid tribute to Ford stalwart Winterbottom following the news that the latter will end a 13 year stint at the squad after next week’s Coates Hire Newcastle 500.
The pair have enjoyed a period of five seasons as team-mates in the main game although Mostert first arrived on the scene in Tickford’s (then known as Ford Performance Racing) Super2 program midway through 2011.
The 26-year-old admits, during that time, Winterbottom has been a valuable mentor in helping him progress in Supercars while pushing him to new performance levels.
Mostert has scored 16 pole positions and 11 race wins including a Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 triumph in 2014 while acting as team-mate to Winterbottom.
“First of all he has been a massive influence on my career,” said Mostert.
“I have been in this stable for quite a few years now and I’ve learned a lot from him, he is an absolute professional behind the camera and a great racing driver on the track.
“He has pushed us to new levels so it is a bit of a shame to see him go.”
Mostert says Winterbottom’s departure came as a shock having thought his team-mate would end up retiring at the Campbellfield operation.
It is tipped that Winterbottom will end his association with Ford and race a Holden ZB Commodore at Preston Hire Racing next year.
“He has been in the one team for so long I honestly thought he was going to retire there at some point,” Mostert added.
“This is a new page for him, different car and new manufacturer, so it is exciting times for him too.
“He is one of the guys that is the busiest away from the track and is looking to dial back the appearances a bit and spend time with family.”
“For me it is sad to see him go, I learned a lot from him and there is going to be a big hole at Tickford to fill.”