Four-week run ‘as good as it gets’ for Winterbottom

Mark Winterbottom (left) and Scott Pye

Irwin Racing driver Mark Winterbottom says a run of four race weekends in a row is “as good as it gets” for the Supercars champion.

This week it was announced Darwin would host the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship on back-to-back weekends, setting up four consecutive weekends of racing.

After the double-header at Hidden Valley Raceway on August 15-16 and 22-23, the championship will head to Townsville on August 29-30 and September 5-6.

Following this weekend’s announcement, Winterbottom said while the Victorian- and New South Wales-based teams are away from home, racing at every opportunity is what he’d like to do.

However, the 39-year-old said the run will test the teams.

“If I’m away I want to race,” said Winterbottom.

“Back-to-back weekends from a driver’s point of view is easy.

“From a team’s point of view, it gets tricky because we have to obviously service the car in between, hopefully not repair the car, that means you’ve had a bad result.

“Then we go from Darwin straight to Townsville, which the truck takes two-and-a-half day’s to get physically from Darwin to Townsville, leaving around two to three day’s prep time at one of the toughest, most brutal tracks on the calendar.

“The teams are going to make the most of their days and their expertise and workmanship, but drivers, if we’re away, let’s race.

“Four weeks in a row, that’s as good as it gets from a driver’s point of view.”

Winterbottom’s Team 18 stablemate Scott Pye echoed his sentiment.

Both drivers are based out of Melbourne and have been on the road with their usually Waverley-based outfit since July 6.

“I’m happy to be going racing every week for the next month. As a driver, that’s all we want to do, we want to race cars,” said Pye.

“We’ve been away from Melbourne for a long time now, so to say we’ve only done one event is a bit of a bummer from my perspective. To be now saying we’re racing every weekend for the next four is pretty awesome.”

Both Winterbottom and Pye have been using the time with the Team 18 crew to good effect.

While it’s the second year for Winterbottom with the team, it’s only the first for Pye, who joined the team from Walkinshaw Andretti United earlier this year.

Winterbottom, Pye, and the team visited the Adelaide River prior to this weekend’s BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown to get up close and personal with the local wildlife.

“It’s been really good to get out and about and actually do some stuff,” said Pye.

“It’s not an appearance or anything, it’s just a bunch of mates that can come out and do something cool like this, see the crocs.

“It’s something that’s iconic for Darwin, so to be able to come out here and do it today is awesome.

“As well, it’s a good opportunity for us while we’re away to do some team bonding. For me, it’s a new team still.

“We’ve only done three events effectively, so it’s a good chance for me to really get to know the people.

“Sometimes away from the track that’s the best way to do that as well because everyone is a bit more relaxed.”

Winterbottom and Pye will be on track this weekend at Hidden Valley Raceway for the Darwin Triple Crown, which is followed by the CoreStaff Darwin SuperSprint the following weekend.

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