Winterbottom ‘in sync’ after feeling ‘disconnected’ from Gen2

Mark Winterbottom on-track in his Gen3 Chevrolet Camaro at Albert Park. Picture: Ross Gibb Photography

Mark Winterbottom on-track in his Gen3 Chevrolet Camaro at Albert Park. Picture: Ross Gibb Photography

Mark Winterbottom says he is achieving better feeling from his Gen3 Team 18 Chevrolet Camaro, having admitted to being “disconnected” with his old Supercar.

The 41-year-old is this weekend set to become just the third driver in Australian Touring Car Championship/Repco Supercars Championship history to make 600 race starts, a milestone set to occur in the opening race of the Bosch Power Tools Perth SuperSprint.

Winterbottom debuted almost 20 years ago now, as an enduro driver for Stone Brothers Racing while it fielded him to the 2003 Super2 Series title.

He would go on to become a full-time Championship driver for Larkham Motor Sport before 13 years with Ford Performance Racing/Tickford Racing, during which time he won the 2013 Bathurst 1000 and 2015 drivers’ championship.

Now into his fifth year at Team 18, the Western Sydney native has experienced the AU Falcon (in Super2), BA Falcon, BF Falcon, Project Blueprint-spec FG Falcon, Car of the Future-spec FG Falcon, FGX Falcon, and ZB Commodore.

This year, the first of the Gen3 era, he is driving a DeWalt-backed Chevrolet Camaro, with which he feels more at ease than the ZB Commodore, the only Gen2-spec Supercar which he ever raced.

“I’m really in sync with the car, which is a good feeling,” said Winterbottom.

“I think I was quite disconnected from the previous car where [with] this one, I really know what I want and what I’m after.

“It’s very clear to me where our weakness is and we’ve got a great group of guys and girls that are working hard trying to fix that weakness.

“So, it’s not like the old car where you had to develop something, we’ve all got the same tools underneath us.

“I think a qualifying car is close for me from the last round, but the race car is our focus.”

Winterbottom has qualified in the top 10 three times out of six this year, and likewise has a 50 percent strike rate with respect to top 10 race results.

Despite a tough event at Albert Park, last time out, he is 12th in the championship.

That he has improved feeling with Gen3 is an especially noteworthy comment considering other drivers have reported a lack of feedback from the new breed of Supercar.

However, it could be a function of Team 18’s move to compete independently in 2023, as opposed to operating in a technical alliance with Triple Eight Race Engineering.

This weekend at Wanneroo Raceway, Winterbottom’s Camaro will run as Car #600 rather than Car #18, in a nod to the milestone.

Team owner Charlie Schwerkolt said, “Frosty is a champion of the sport, and we’re thrilled to celebrate his 600th race start with this special addition to the DeWalt livery for such a significant occasion.

“Frosty’s longevity in the sport is a testament to his talent, attitude and passion for the sport, and his experience and insight have served us well to strengthen the team.

“He has adapted to the new generation of Supercars so well straight out of the gate, and we know there’s more to come from him into the future.”

The sole, 90-minute practice session for Event 3 of the Supercars Championship takes place on Friday from 14:25 local time/16:25 AEST.

CLICK HERE for event schedule

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