IRWIN Racing’s Mark Winterbottom battled blistered tyres for 17th in Race 25 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship at The Bend Motorsport Park.

Winterbottom had encouraging top-ten speed during the mixed-weather practice sessions, however he qualified a row behind team-mate Scott Pye in 19th for the first 24-lapper of the weekend on a drying circuit.

Winterbottom lost a couple of positions on the first lap when McLaughlin rejoined in the midfield following his clash with Whincup while battling for the lead.

The IRWIN Commodore pitted early on Lap 6 and emerged in 16th when the pit stop cycle closed ten laps later.

Winterbottom was one of many cars in the field to suffer from blistered tyres late in the race, as he battled home to finish in 17th.

The IRWIN Racing star has retained his eighth position in the drivers standings, while the combined points sees Team 18 drop one spot to sixth in the teams championship.

The IRWIN Racing Commodore returns to action tomorrow with back-to-back qualifying from 9:20am ACST. Race 26 will commence at 11:55pm and Race 27 from 2:25pm, live on Fox Sports 506 and Kayo Sports.

Mark Winterbottom, driver #18 IRWIN Racing Holden ZB Commodore

“It was a very tough race for me today,” said Winterbottom.

“Our rear tyres were blistered and we didn’t have the car speed to move up towards the top ten.

“The blistered tyres hurt our race pace massively, we went with a Triple Eight type of setup and they seemed to have the same dramas as well.

“We’ll work hard tonight and aim to look after our tyres better in the races tomorrow.”