Winterbottom ‘happy to hold on’ in sketchy shootout

Mark Winterbottom labelled conditions in the Top 10 Shootout “sketchy”

Mark Winterbottom said he had to lean on his 18 years of Supercars experience to muster a competitive lap in a “sketchy” shootout at Mount Panorama.

The Irwin Racing driver qualified sixth in Sunday morning’s session at the Repco Mount Panorama 500, holding position in the Top 10 Shootout.

The latter session saw a significant drop-off in times, with van Gisbergen’s best lap in the shootout 1.2s adrift of his provisional pole position effort.

Winterbottom’s time was 1.4s off his best in what was a hotter session at midday making for a slippier circuit.

The Team 18 driver was happy to come out of the shootout unscathed.

“I’m happy with today, we’ve gone forward in qualifying because if you qualify at the front you normally race there,” said Winterbottom on the Fox Sports broadcast.

“That shootout lap, it was so sketchy, I was happy to get out of it at the end, to be honest, with a car that still has all its panels on.

“The track gets hot and we saw [Cameron] Waters last year, he did a 2:03.5s and now a 2:05.5s is really competitive so although the corners go the same you’ve got to drive the track completely different.

“I’ve tried to use my 18 years of experience here but I haven’t felt it like that before so I’m happy to hold on.”

After a fourth place finish in Race 1 of the Repco Supercars Championship, Winterbottom said he was optimistic about his chances for Race 2.

“My car is good in the race so once you settle down, put some fuel in it, kick back a bit and do those laps it actually gets into a nice rhythm,” he explained.

“It’s when you’re trying to lean on the car and make a little bit here and a little bit there, like [Brock’s] Skyline over the top. The thing’s sideways, you can’t just cruise through there.

“I feel like I earned my sixth position then. Everyone did a great job in that shootout, it was tricky conditions and we’ll just settle down in the race and get a good result hopefully.”

The second and final 40-lap race of the weekend is due to start at 15:00 local time/AEDT.

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