Mark Winterbottom defied pain and numb legs with a breakthrough victory for his Ford Performance Racing team at the Nikon SuperGP and now promises to become a thorn in the race to the flag in the V8 Supercar Championship Series.
Winterbottom through his Orrcon FPR Falcon at the daunting Surfers Paradise track despite a week-long debilitating illness that had him running on '30 per cent capacity' and sheer adrenalin on a gruelling second 300km day.
He beat home Toll Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander and Jim Beam Racing's comeback kid James Courtney today while many of the rest of the field, including Championship leaders Jamie Whincup and Will Davison, stumbled on the dramatic day.
“That's awesome,” Winterbottom said. “It's been a tough weekend and I'm glad that it's over. It's a massive relief because we are a team that should be winning. Now we expect to be there for the rest of the year.”
Winterbottom came to the Gold Coast not only sick but having to endure the endless BBQ jokes he has copped since his car blew up in flames at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. He proved today he has the grit to fight with the very best.
“If you keep pushing hard you forget about the pain,” he said. “It's a very physical and mental battle. I couldn't feel my legs for a while so I kept pumping the pedals to stay clear of Garth. It rates very highly to win the way we did.”
The second race was filled with as many dramas as the first when Whincup and Davison both suffered terribly and had to start from near the back of the grid.
Whincup finished an incredible sixth and Davison tenth meaning the Championship points' gap between the two is a meagre 32 points with three events remaining.
Whincup was extraordinary from the start. He came from almost the very back of the grid in 23rd and within 12 laps was in eighth. He exploited a chaotic start by claiming numerous places of the grid and began chipping away from there.
But Davison couldn't follow him, barely making up any places in the first half of the race.