Mark Winterbottom has claimed his first V8 Supercars championship at the season-ending Sydney 500 for the Ford Pepsi Max team.
`Mr Consistent’ Winterbottom had finished in the top 5 every year since joining Prodrive Racing Australia in 2008, but has never been crowned season champion. That all ended at the Homebush racetrack on Saturday afternoon when he claimed the title after finishing fifth and third respectively in the round’s opening sprint races.
‘Thank you, thank you, thank you,’ said Winterbottom emotionally over his team’s radio.
‘I’ve got a few tears under this visor – I’m speechless.
‘I wish my mum was here; I wish she was here.’
The reference was to Winterbottom’s mum who died in 2011 of Cancer and who’s photo has appeared on Winterbottom’s helmet every year since.
Winterbottom’s results now take his lead to 220 points over his closest rival, Holden’s Craig Lowndes. This is obviously mathematically too big a gap for Lowndes to overtake as there are only 150 points available in the final race on Sunday.
Of course 6 times winner Jamie Whincup would have been the stronger contender for the season, however after crashing in the first qualifying session, he had to start from the last position on the grid which gave him a 15th and 7th position finish in the sprints.
‘We’ve fought for a long time for this, I’ve been at the team for a long time and we got it done’, he said at his final interview
‘Thank you to all the Ford fans that have stuck by us. We had promised but finally we got No.1 on the door.
‘Party’s on me guys.’