IN order to win the Bathurst 1000 a team needs two solid drivers, a car which has good speed and no mechanical gremlins, to steer clear of any incidents and a touch of luck thrown in as well.
Ford Performance Racing’s Mark Winterbottom had all those elements combine for him last year at Mount Panorama when he claimed the first Bathurst 1000 win of his career.
This time around he knows he has a talented co-driver in Steve Owen – a man who has stood on the Bathurst podium before – he has the backing of a leading team at FPR, and he knows his own form has been good as signified by his current third position in the championship.
However, in the wake of a 10th placing at Sandown 500 he knows his Falcon needs work.
“Bathurst is definitely one of those races – you can have the best form coming in and the 20 cent bit can cost you the race win,” he said.
“So that win last year was really good for the team, we know we can do it. We are confident although our form isn’t as good as it should be.”
At Sandown, the first leg of the V8 Supercars’ Endurance Cup, Winterbottom qualified his car in third but during the race itself it was clear there were issues.
Winterbottom believes it was a mechanical issue that led to Owen spinning out and losing track position.
It is a problem that, if it reoccurs at Bathurst, will make Winterbottom’s goal of defending the Peter Brock trophy near impossible.
“It is a long day when the car isn’t doing what you want it to. Usually in the short races you can make changes in between, but that isn’t possible in the enduros,” he said. “I’m 99 per cent sure they’ll find a damper failed, because the way the car was handling felt as though I had a left front damper fail.
“I’m not making excuses, there just needs to be a reason as the front end was bouncing all over the place. That has never happened before, so we’ll have a thorough look – the car was almost undriveable.”
While Winterbottom was bitterly disappointed with the Sandown result which allowed Craig Lowndes to leapfrog him in the drivers’ championship, he will be quick to put that behind him.
The focus of the talented driver and his team is to work on having all the elements they need for a another successful bid at Mount Panorama.
“We’ve just got to fix it, don’t whinge about it, make excuses or complain, just get in there and fix it, just not let it drag on too long,” Winterbottom said.
“You go back to Bathurst now and I’m sure we can still win that race. We just have to fix what’s going on.”