Motorsport: Winterbottom holds off McLaughlin for first win

Mark Winterbottom during race 2 for the V8 Supercars Perth SuperSprint. Photo / Getty Images
Mark Winterbottom during race 2 for the V8 Supercars Perth SuperSprint. Photo / Getty Images

Mark Winterbottom has shown championship-winning fight to claim his first V8 Supercars race win of the season, prevailing at Barbagallo Raceway on Sunday.

Winterbottom breathed new life into his series defence in Perth, his first victory since last year's Sandown 500.

He staved off a rampant Scott McLaughlin and Saturday's race winner Craig Lowndes in a frantic finale.

In Perth, a Rubik's Cube of a race was only solved in the dying stages when teams' duelling strategies and tactics came together.

Following Lowndes' strategic masterclass on Saturday, when he carved through the field with the benefit of fresh tyres from an extra stop, most drivers opted for a three-stop approach.

Winterbottom and McLaughlin weren't interested in following their lead, with their engineers committing to two-stop strategies.

For Winterbottom, this was a bold gamble given he and Prodrive Racing team were sharply critical of their tyre life on Saturday.

"I didn't want to do it," he said.

"You question it but the engineers are far more qualified than we are and they have degrees to prove it."

As the laps ticked down, so too did the gap between Winterbottom and McLaughlin.
With 18 laps remaining, the gap was 11 seconds. With 11 laps to go, it was just more than six seconds.

Winterbottom was on track to hold on but backmarker Aaren Russell threw a fly in the ointment, astonishingly overtaking Winterbottom with five laps remaining so he could finish on the lead lap.

A furious Winterbottom told his team radio "that has just cost me the race" as he saw the Volvo S60 in his rear-view mirror.

But there was no way past for McLaughlin, who too was struggling with tyre life, or Lowndes who did his darnedest from third to pass them both.

After a terrible day on Saturday when he finished 22nd, Winterbottom said it was "right up there" with the best victories of his career.

Winterbottom's first win in almost eight months also made him the eighth different driver to claim a race win in nine races this season.

Lowndes' podium finish put him on top of the championship standings, 42 points ahead of Jamie Whincup, who finished 11th.

McLaughlin is third in the overall standings, a further six points behind and Winterbottom improved his series outlook to fourth place.

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