IRWIN Racing’s Mark Winterbottom finished strongly with fourth in Race 18 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship at the CoreStaff Darwin SuperSprint at Hidden Valley.
The 18th race of the season was special for many reasons for Team 18, placing both customer Triple Eight entries in the top four for the first time to cap off a strong back-to-back performance in Darwin.
Starting third for the day’s earlier race, Winterbottom was pushed back to tenth before penalties to other competitors promoted him to ninth.
The IRWIN Racing Commodore went for a longer opening stint in the final race, stopping with 12 laps to go and using his fresher tyres to pass Jamie Whincup and Chaz Mostert for fifth.
Winterbottom fought tooth-and-nail with Shane Van Gisbergen for fourth place before they ran side-by-side through Turns 5 and 6 with four laps to go. The four-time Darwin race winner hung on around the outside to take the position and follow his team mate home for fourth.
The weekend’s results meant Winterbottom maintained seventh in the championship, as a massive gain in the teams championship saw Team 18 leap three spots to fifth.
IRWIN Racing will bounce back next weekend, heading to North Queensland for the NTI Townsville SuperSprint on 29-30 August.
Mark Winterbottom, driver #18 IRWIN Racing Holden ZB Commodore
“The team should be so proud of their performance this weekend,” said Mark Winterbottom.
“I feel like we did everything we could this weekend, some things didn’t go our way in the races but our race pace was up there and we were close to a podium in that last race.”
“We have a quick turnaround to Townsville, and it has always been one of the toughest tracks on the calendar, a real concrete jungle.
“It’s great to head back in to Queensland and we will go back-to-back there.”
Charlie Schwerkolt, Team Owner – Team 18/IRWIN Racing
“Race 18 was a special race for Team 18, to beat the mothership of Triple Eight in customer cars in our first year as a two-car team is a massive achievement,” said Charlie Schwerkolt.
“As a benchmark you always measure yourself against the people that build our cars, and to beat them today is a massive boost for our team.
“Our drivers and crew haven’t seen their families in months, so to perform like this while on the road from our base is an amazing achievement.
“A double podium for Scott Pye today and fourth for Frosty in the last race is a fantastic way to end our time at Hidden Valley, we have learnt so much in these back-to-back weekends.
“We’ve got some really smart people in our new team and I can see a strong bond building within the group of experienced heads and eager young up-and-comers.
“We’ve made a massive gain in the teams championship, climbing three spots to fifth ahead of some incredibly well-credentialed outfits.
“The last seven weeks this team have been living, eating and doing everything together and they have all bonded really well during this time.
“A massive thanks to everyone at Stanley Black & Decker, and all of our valued team partners that have supported this team and for making this possible.
“Also to all the families and friends behind the scenes who are watching from home, we are thinking of you during these tough times.