Motorsport: Winterbottom trying to play catch-up

By Dale Budge

Mark Winterbottom on the podium at Townsville. Photo / Getty Images
Mark Winterbottom on the podium at Townsville. Photo / Getty Images

Ford driver Mark Winterbottom is hoping to have found that last little edge over the winter break as V8 Supercars hit the track at Sydney Motorsport Park today.

The defending series champion has been a model of consistency in 2016 but hasn't quite had the outright speed of Red Bull Holden rivals Jamie Whincup and Shane Van Gisbergen so far. Winterbottom sits third in the championship but doesn't have the race wins to have had him challenging the top two.

"I think we are in a good position but I don't know if it is where we need to be because if you can't win races it doesn't matter where you are effectively," Winterbottom tells

"We need to take that next step.

"We have been consistent and most days we have been better than the rest just not the two that we are trying to beat in the championship ahead of us."

Winterbottom's Prodrive Racing team has spent the past six weeks searching for answers and will get an idea of whether they have made any improvements when cars get out on track today for practice.

"We had a test the other day that was very productive," Winterbottom says. "We found a few things - some worked and some didn't. If we can take that next step we can run them down but there is a point where you have to start beating them."

The 2013 Bathurst champion says it is hard trying to identify what exactly has been missing this year.

"We are able to get the car really good at times but it is a bit hit and miss. For example - in Townsville this year on the Friday the car was close but not fantastic. Saturday we battled through and finished third or fourth but not 100 percent happy. We went out in the shootout and it was fantastic and then during the race we lost that little edge.

"At the moment we can get it right but not consistently."

His run to a maiden title last year however has lifted team morale - Prodrive Racing had endured a number of years playing second fiddle to their Red Bull Racing rivals.

"It definitely gives you confidence," Winterbottom explains. "You go into the final round last year and you are going up against a team that has won so many championships - it wasn't just me that needed to prove we could do it as well.

"Once you do it the second time there is a lot more belief."

- NZ Herald

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