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IRWIN Racing’s Mark Winterbottom enjoyed the level of competition and intensity during the opening round of the BP Ultimate Supercars All Stars eSeries held at Phillip Island and Monza last night.

Winterbottom netted results of 20th and 14th in the first two races at Phillip Island, and eighth in final race at Italian Formula 1 circuit Monza.

With no experience at all with racing simulation before the introducing of the eSeries, Winterbottom started from scratch after receiving an entire simulator setup last week and had to get up to speed ahead of the highly-anticipated event held during the break caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The Team 18 driver was supported by the remainder of the team watching from home, including Scott Pye’s regular Data Engineer Rory Jackermis who spotted and called strategy for Winterbottom in the IRWIN Racing Commodore ZB.

Winterbottom was hampered by additional pit-stop time penalties for jumping the start in both races, including a 28 second penalty in Race 2.

The night was also plagued by a number of enormous crashes, with the IRWIN Racing Commodore drilled from behind on the main straight on Lap 2 of the first race at Phillip Island. In a crash that would have required a new chassis in real life, Winterbottom simply hit the reset button and carried on with the race.

The final race at Monza only lasted a hundred metres before he was thrown into the outside fence in the melee towards the first corner.

Winterbottom emerged fourth after the safety car period and moved to second on the restart, but later spun fighting for third at the first corner and was collected from behind before recovering to eighth.

Overall Winterbottom left with a smile and plenty of entertaining moments to keep racing fans engaged with Supercars racing at a time when all major sporting codes have been put on hold during the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Round 2 of the BP Ultimate Supercars All Stars eSeries will head to European Formula 1 circuits Silverstone and Catalunya next Wednesday April 15 at 7pm AEST, live on Fox Sports 506, Kayo Sports and the IRWIN Racing Facebook Page.

QUOTES
Mark Winterbottom, driver #18 Team 18 IRWIN Racing Holden Commodore ZB

“The whole night was so intense but really entertaining. It’s a great concept that Supercars has done to keep our sport alive,” said Mark Winterbottom.

“It’s so different to the real thing and it’s quite difficult when I hadn’t done any sim racing before so it was all new this week.

“The last race at Monza was awesome but I hadn’t done a full race-run around there before so when my tyres started to go I was in a bit of trouble.

“I had Rory Jackermis on the radio who’s usually Scott Pye’s data engineer, he was my spotter and we had the interaction of the team and the focus and concentration of the driving element that this series provides.

“It’s as close to the real thing you can get and while we’re in isolation it keeps our eye in and keeps us practicing our race craft.

“I’m definitely a lot more comfortable in the real race car but I was struggling not to spin on my own let alone fight for the race lead, I’m not losing focus that what I want to do is get back on track as quick as possible.”