Motorsport: Dramatic Bathurst win for Winterbottom - and Ford

Mark Winterbottom and FPR Ford driving partner Steve Richards  won the Bathurst 1000 yesterday. Photo / Getty Images
Mark Winterbottom and FPR Ford driving partner Steve Richards won the Bathurst 1000 yesterday. Photo / Getty Images

Driving back to Sydney on Monday will give Mark Winterbottom a chance to reminisce on how far he has come.

But the the Ford driver says his maiden Bathurst 1000 triumph has been a reminder of just how far he can go in V8 Supercars.

Winterbottom admitted he would get a little sentimental on the triumphant return to his hometown when he drives past Lithgow where it all began for the Ford gun.

"My first race was go karts at Lithgow, it was definitely a special place,'' he said.

"I used to be nervous going to Lithgow. I used to be sick every time because of the winding road and nerves as a kid.

"Now we go up to Bathurst and I still get sick because of the nerves.

"But there are great memories there.''

And now Winterbottom has fond Mount Panorama memories.

For 10 years Winterbottom made the three hour return trek to Sydney a broken man.

He had never made the podium let alone won at Bathurst.

In 2007 Winterbottom led by 20 seconds with 12 laps left, but then slid off the track in the wet.

However, Winterbottom all but exorcised his demons when he held out Holden arch rival and four-time champion Jamie Whincup's final lap lunge in the six-hour, 161-lap epic to win by just 0.47 seconds.

It marked the Blue Oval's first Bathurst win since 2008 and 18th overall, plus Winterbottom's factory-backed Ford Performance Racing team's maiden triumph on the mountain.

For so long Winterbottom had wondered what might have been.

Now he is dreaming of what is to come.

"I have been trying so hard,'' said Winterbottom, who was partnered by Steven Richards.

"To finally win it, and the way we did it, it is just amazing.

"It is going to sink in later I am sure but it does make you think about the championship.''

The win lifted Winterbottom one spot to third on the V8 standings, 142 points behind Whincup ahead of the final endurance round on the Gold Coast in a fortnight.

It also provided redemption six years after Winterbottom let victory slip through his grasp as his frustrated co-driver Richards looked on.

Winterbottom said he did it as much for Richards - now a three-time Bathurst winner - as himself and Ford.

Not that Richards was much of an inspiration in the dying laps with Whincup looming large in Winterbottom's rearview mirror.

"I kept seeing the big screen and he was making me nervous,'' Winterbottom said of Richards who cut an anxious figure when TV crews kept cutting to him in pit lane during the tense finish.

"Coming out of The Chase there is a big TV there and they kept panning to him.

"But there was lot of other stuff going on. I felt under pressure. I was fighting the car.

"There have been big moments in my career, whether it be go karts, getting a scholarship with Ford... but nothing as big as this (win).''

The tense sprint home may have felt like an eternity to Winterbottom but technically the race was completed in record time (six hours, 11 minutes 27.93 seconds), eclipsing the 2010 mark by 84 seconds.

- AAP

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