Mark Winterbottom has refused to concede the V8 Supercar Championship title despite seeing points leader Jamie Whincup extend his advantage in Bahrain.
The Ford Performance Racing man saw his Team Vodafone rival take a clean sweep of wins in the Gulf Air Desert 400 to leave him 187 points behind with just two race weekends left to run.
Winterbottom had a troubled run from the start in the opening race of the weekend after a mechanical issue saw him qualify ninth.
After a safety car mix-up midway through the race, Winterbottom was left with work to do but on the restart, he made contact with rival Garth Tander at turn one and was given a drive-through penalty that left him down in 21st place.
"There's not much you can do; you try your best to stop,” he said. “I could have rolled off the brake and banged into him [Tander], but I almost came to a full stop trying to miss him. If I had whacked him up the arse then it would be cut and dry but he was slow when I was trying to pass him. I tried my best to miss him."
That result left Winterbottom with work to do in races two and three but he produced a storming drive from 21st on the grid to take the flag just off the podium in race two.
Winterbottom then repeated the feat in race three to again finish fourth – results he hadn't expected at the start of the day.
“I got a ripper start in both races and, that if you'd told me this morning I would get two fourth-place finishes, I would have been happy,” he said. “The points are good for where we were last night but it's just unfortunate for us that Jamie Whincup was so quick. If it wasn't for the points it would have been good fun today!
“We haven't given up. Until the chequered flag drops at Oran Park we won't concede defeat. Each round is getting a lot harder but you never know what will happen; we've got two more tracks, two different scenarios.”