IRWIN Racing’s Mark Winterbottom and James Golding have placed eighth at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
As the final round of the 2020 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, this result ensured Winterbottom finished tenth place in the drivers standings, as the teams championship saw Team 18 rise to sixth place in its first year as a two-car squad.
In doing so, Team 18 has leapt past Kelly Racing, Brad Jones Racing and Walkinshaw Andretti United in the teams points which dictate the all-important pit lane order for the following season.
Starting 18th, a gear position sensor issue on the start meant Golding took off in the IRWIN Holden in second gear when the dash was reading neutral, and he ran last for the opening three laps of the race.
Golding quickly made amends from his start and charged through the back markers and made up 11 positions to 14th place before handing over to Winterbottom on Lap 14.
As the track gripped up the IRWIN Commodore came to life and they climbed up to sixth by the halfway mark of the race.
Winterbottom remained fifth ahead of teammate Scott Pye after the final stop, but lost a spot to Pye and then Lee Holdsworth on Lap 145 and came home in a strong eighth place.
With the Bathurst 1000 concluding the 2020 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, the Team 18 crew will return to their homes in Victoria tomorrow for the first time since they left 105 days ago.
Team 18 will continue to field two cars in the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship for Mark Winterbottom and Scott Pye, with further announcements regarding next season to be made in due course.
Attention now turns to the Repco Supercars Pro ESeries, where James Golding will represent Team 18 in the online racing competition commencing on October 28.
driver, #18 IRWIN Racing Holden ZB Commodore
“We started 18th but an issue with the gear position sensor on the dash put Jimmy a fair way back off the start, but we had some good pace early in the day to bounce back,” said Winterbottom.
“We lost a bit of power steering with about 50 to go the end and we had an engine issue with about 40 laps to go with smoke and oil dripping out. so we had a few little issues to navigate.
“To have two cars in the top ten for Team 18 at Bathurst and the championship is a great way to end a tough year.
“Thanks to IRWIN Tools, Bunnings Warehouse, Fuchs Lubricants, Actron Air, Hino Trucks and all of our partners for their support through this year and we look forward to getting back on track next year.”
driver, #18 IRWIN Racing Holden ZB Commodore
“It was a pretty strong comeback for Frosty [Winterbottom] and I considering where we started and where we were at in practice,” said Golding.
“We didn’t get off to the best of starts with the gear position sensor not reading properly, it read that I was in neutral and I thought I was in first gear but I was actually in second.
“I took off in second gear so that’s how we lost all that ground and ended up in last place, so to recover back to eighth place I think was pretty good and a fantastic job by the team, they worked faultlessly all day and didn’t put a foot wrong.
“The track did come to us in the race but we did struggle for straight line speed towards the end so something the team will look into after this, as it makes it difficult around that place with the long straights there.
“I’ve had ambitions to come back as a full-time driver ever since I left, but I went for the best opportunity available this year and that was driving with Frosty in the enduros.
“I think we maximised what we had and had a pretty good run in the race, so I’m not sure what may come out of this weekend, I’m talking to a few people but nothing anywhere near locked in yet so we’ll see what happens.
“They’re a really great bunch of people at Team 18 and all so easy to get along with and work through anything we wanted to get through in terms of improving the car or our procedures.
“I loved working with the team, everyone worked well together which made the weekend much easier and that’s why we got the most out of the day.”
team owner, Team 18/IRWIN Racing/DEWALT Racing
“This is definitely up there in my achievements in Supercars,” said Schwerkolt.
“For both cars to come home sixth and eighth at Bathurst is sensational, and to be ninth and tenth in the championship is a credit to all involved, a lot of people thought we couldn’t do that.
“We’ve moved up in the pit lane order as well which is fantastic, I feel like we’re hitting our stride and getting better as a team every time we hit the track.
“All four drivers never put a foot wrong, and same with the crew, they were amazing, They’ve sacrificed so much and they’ve done an awesome job for us this week and for the last 15 weeks they have been away from home.
“I have a massive appreciation for everyone at Stanley Black & Decker and all of our partners who have stuck by this team and I during this time.
“Supercars have done an amazing job to keep the sport going as well. You look at all of the other sports and we have really stood out and excelled as a mainstream sport during COVID.
“Everyone I spoke to said the presentation of the sport was outstanding and it felt like a normal Bathurst 1000 for those watching from home.
“To re-sign Frosty, to have Scotty on board and a really well-bonded team, I think we’ve got what it takes to be a consistent threat in this championship next year.
“We’ve still got things to fix up and more to achieve, but we’re in good shape to bounce back strongly in 2021.”