Winterbottom: Rule changes could topple ‘dominant’ teams

Mark Winterbottom pic: Team 18

Mark Winterbottom hopes the Supercars playing field will be levelled as a result of a personnel cap introduced ahead of the season’s resumption.

The Irwin Racing driver believes a the cap may see dominant teams toppled and the likes of his Team 18 come to the fore.

Supercars has mandated each two-car team takes a maximum of 13 crew members, including two drivers, to this weekend’s BP Ultimate Sydney SuperSprint.

Winterbottom likened the changes to the NRL and AFL, which have faced similar economic pressures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He said reductions in capacity may mean a shift the performance balance between the bigger and smaller teams.

“Look at other sports, look at the footy,” Winterbottom told Fox Sports News.

“There are teams that have dominated, they go into a gap and lose half their staff and come out and they’re not dominating anymore.

“Good teams run on a lot of continuity and repetition; when rule changes come out it just completely throws the sport into a bit of turmoil.

“You’ve got to adapt. It’s the quickest who adapt that get the results. It’s kind of a level playing field.

“It makes you rethink again on the fly. It almost feels brand new, it’s a bit of a revamp. Time will tell.

“If the same guy wins, then it hasn’t changed, has it? I guess we’ll find out in a few days’ time.”

Winterbottom said teams have benefitted from the “luxury” of data engineers, who won’t be able to attend Sydney Motorsport Park.

Notably, access to the data logger will not be available until the end of the race weekend and live data access during races will be restricted.

“There are engineers, there’s data, there are three people per car,” said Winterbottom.

“Now there’s one engineer, two mechanics per car, and we’re all multitasking. That’s the bigger shift, let alone tyres, formats, and all the things that go with it.”

While the changes present a challenge for the teams, Winterbottom said they’re welcomed and long overdue.

“At the same time, I love it. I think our sport was a bit too expensive anyway; they needed to cut a few costs,” he added.

“We want to see different people winning. Running the same rules week-in-week-out, the big teams adapt, the good people adapt, it gets the same results.

“Spice it up, get some different results, a different feel, and hopefully it’s good for the sport.”

Winterbottom, who currently lies eighth in the standings, said he’s eager to get back on track at Sydney Motorsport Park.

It’s been three months since he last drove a Supercar at the ill-fated Melbourne 400, which was cancelled after the first day’s running due to COVID-19.

“We’re as ready as we can be,” said Winterbottom.

“Hitting the track is going to be an amazing feeling.

“It’s great to see our sport back on TV in real terms as well and get our sport back to where it needs to be, get the cars on track, and have some great racing and good results.

“I think it’s going to be interesting anyway with the rule changes, but hopefully that favours us and we can get some good results.”

The BP Ultimate Sydney SuperSprint takes place on June 27-28.

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