IRWIN Racing’s Mark Winterbottom was taken out in the opening lap carnage in the final race of The Repco SuperSprint at The Bend.

Qualifying was an improvement for Winterbottom, finding gains in his one-lap pace to start 15th and 12th for Races 26 and 27.

In Race 26, Winterbottom made one spot off the start to sit 14th when the pit window opened. The IRWIN Commodore was the only car to stop on Lap 9 before emerging again in 14th.

Winterbottom’s tyres faded late in the race and he dropped one position to finish 15th.

The IRWIN Racing crew made some major changes to improve their race pace and tyre life for Race 27, however Winterbottom’s race ended on Lap 1 when he was an innocent bystander in the carnage at Turn 17.

An incident in front checked up the field before Winterbottom was tagged and spun in front of the chasing pack. He was collected by a couple of cars and the damage was enough to park the IRWIN Commodore out of the race.

Winterbottom’s DNF unfortunately saw him fall back to 12th in the drivers standings, only 16 points behind his team mate. Meanwhile, the teams championship took a hit with Team 18 now sitting seventh in the points in a closely-fought midfield battle.

The IRWIN Racing Commodore will remain at The Bend Motorsport Park for next weekend’s OTR SuperSprint using the shortened 3.41km West Circuit.

This will mark the penultimate event of the 2020 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship before the season finale at the Bathurst 1000 in October, where Winterbottom will be joined by Victorian James Golding as his co-driver.

Mark Winterbottom, driver #18 IRWIN Racing Holden ZB Commodore

“We made some changes for the last race and I felt pretty speedy on that first lap,” said Winterbottom.

“I had really good drive out of the corners where I was struggling at earlier, so we were looking promising.

“I passed Le Brocq and Reynolds at the second last corner and it looks like they have made contact and spun the car into mine, it grabbed the door and spat me sideways and then Courtney hit me at full noise.

“There’s quite a bit of damage which is unfortunate as I feel we could have been on for a much better race.

“Not a lucky weekend at all but we’ll regroup, keep fighting and race again next weekend.”