James Winslow made the most of his late call-up to the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series by racking up a top ten finish on debut and opening more than a few eyes ahead of the 2010 season.

Handed the chance to race in the season-ending Sydney Telstra 500 by Jay Motorsport, the Briton belied his lack of 'tin top' experience and seized the opportunity to stake a claim to a permanent place on the grid next year by qualifying just a handful of tenths off pole position and then showing more-seasoned rivals a clean pair of heels in both the weekend's races.

Having concentrated largely on single-seaters throughout his successful career, Winslow had just 40 laps of testing in a V8 Supercar under his belt before hitting the track at the specially-constructed layout around Sydney's Olympic Park, but quickly got to grips with the Holden Commodore at his disposal.

Having easily topped the times in each of his pre-race tests and featured in the top twelve in practice in Sydney, he hustled the Sip 'n' Save car to a time just a couple of tenths shy of a spot on row three of the grid for race one, having been denied a cleaner lap by a slower car that hampered his new tyre run.

"The pace was very encouraging from the off," he said, "Although it was frustrating not to be able to show exactly why I was capable of in qualifying, putting together my best sector times proved that I could have been as high as fifth on the grid, and the gave me great confidence for the two races to follow."

Starting instead from eleventh spot, Winslow made a good getaway to gain a few places, only to see his early progress slowed by the appearance of the safety car as the Fujitsu field discovered just how tricky the Homebush Park circuit was in race conditions. Winslow, too, was not immune from error, locking up his rear wheels while trying to make another pass on the slippery inside line and making light contact with the tyre barrier.

The #42 machine was undamaged in the incident and, having dropped back to 14th as a result, the Briton proceeded to charge back through the field, retaking five places in the remaining laps and setting the fourth fastest time of the race.

"The off was frustrating, but all part of what was still a steep learning curve," Winslow admitted, "Fortunately, the car was hardly marked and there was still enough time for me to make amends. It was good to be able to make moves, if slightly galling to know that we had the pace for a potential podium finish. In a class where Ford has dominated for the past few years, it was great to be able to come straight in and be the fastest Holden."

The second race of the weekend got off in similar fashion to the first, with Winslow making immediate gains at the start, before running into problems. This time, it was a slipping clutch that led to his downfall, dropping the Jay Motorsport entry back before eventually causing its retirement with two laps to run, but the Briton remained upbeat.

"I was fastest Holden again despite the gremlins, and very happy to be able to show that sort of pace against drivers with three years more experience than me," Winslow conceded, "I made another great start, overtook three cars under braking for turn one and was running in sixth place, looking good. Then, at the end of the opening lap, I felt the clutch begin to slip and I lost drive.

"I had to stop flat-shifting, and then found that I couldn't get full power as the problem got worse. I lost sixth place and struggled with the car in seventh before it eventually stopped. Again, I had the pace get to third or fourth, which would have been a great result on my first appearance in V8 Supercars."

Despite the frustration, Winslow found it easy to take positives from the weekend.

"We were getting faster and faster with every session - and I know there is still a lot more to come," the former F3 and Renault V6 champion insisted, "This was a great debut, with some great racing. V8 Supercars are really very different to single-seaters, a lot more physical, but you can really get stuck in. I loved it - and I know I can win it given the chance!

"The whole Telstra 500 was a great event to be involved in. The new circuit is only two minutes from my home in Sydney and was fantastic to race on. Over 70,000 people came to the track every day - over 210,000 people to the event as a whole - and it is easy to see why the V8 Supercars is such a popular category."

Although the end results may not have gone in his favour, Winslow believes that he has done enough to attract attention when it comes to teams finding drivers for 2010, particularly with the Australian media picking up on his Sydney performance and remarking about his immediate ability to run on the pace.

"I have had a lot of interest due to my pace this weekend, and I'd love to be involved in V8s next season," he confirmed, "Along with the times I put up in testing over the past month, I think I have a strong case for consideration.

"Of course, none of this would have been possible without the help of Jay Motorsport and my supporters ETT, ATS, World's Best Technology, Code 3 and Driving Solutions, and I hope that I will soon have something to show for their backing."



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