Winterbottom: ‘I want to be top three in the points’

Mark Winterbottom has high hopes for the year ahead

Supercars champion Mark Winterbottom has set his sights on a top three finish in the 2021 standings.

It’s been a stellar start to the season for the man known as ‘Frosty’, who sits fifth overall after consistently putting his Irwin Racing Commodore in the mix at both Mount Panorama and Sandown.

He’s eager to prove that early burst of form is no flash in the pan.

“Bathurst, outright pace we weren’t quick enough but we executed two top fives; Sandown we had raw pace and didn’t hit it on the head and the weather caught us out a bit,” Winterbottom told Speedcafe.com.

“You want to rock up and challenge the timesheets so then you know that every track you go to you’re a chance of winning, and that’s how you win the championship.

“If you win races and finish top five, you’re going to be there at the end somewhere, so it all sort of works out.

“Come December, I want to be top three in the points and having a crack.

“That’s kind of the plan, but it’s tough when one guy [Shane van Gisbergen] is dominating.

“He can’t win them all, but you have got to put pressure on him because at the moment he will win them all if no one puts pressure on him.”

Van Gisbergen has made a perfect five-from-five start to the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship, winning whether he has started from pole position or as far back as 17th on the grid.

Behind him, 78 points covers second to sixth – namely Jamie Whincup, Chaz Mostert, Cameron Waters, Winterbottom, and Will Davison.

Winterbottom’s podium near-misses have been well-documented, with a potential third place going begging at Sandown after losing a position to Whincup in pit lane.

Winterbottom was in the hunt for a Saturday race win at Sandown

It marked the 39-year-old’s sixth fourth-place finish since joining Team 18 in 2019 as he continues to strive for his first podium with the squad; a situation compounded by team-mate Scott Pye’s hat-trick of thirds last year.

Winterbottom, who has outqualifed Pye at every attempt this year, is relaxed about the Sandown missed opportunity, with bigger fish to fry.

“I’m genuinely not that annoyed,” said the 2015 title winner.

“If you have one-offs and all your eggs are in one basket and that’s the one opportunity you’re going to have all year to get it and something goes wrong, it feels like the whole world is crashing down.

“But when I feel like we can go to Tassie and be as strong if not stronger, I feel our time will come.

“I feel genuinely really happy and excited about what’s coming more than disappointed that we’ve missed an opportunity.

“Lots of people put emphasis on podiums because there’s a trophy but to be honest, I want to get wins.

“I don’t want to just get third, third, third and fill the trophy cabinet up with a heap of bronze medals.”

Winterbottom’s next opportunity will come at the Beaurepaires Tasmania SuperSprint at Symmons Plains, where he and Team 18 combined to jag a memorable pole position in 2019.

That will form Round 3 of the season, on the April 17-18 weekend.

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