Australia

Frosty on the verge of Supercars history


Mark Winterbottom’s legendary knock is displaying no indicators of slowing down as he appears to shut in a brand new deal that would see Frosty driving into 2023 and past.

Mark Winterbottom is about to start negotiating a deal for 2023 and past in a transfer that would see him overtake Craig Lowndes as essentially the most capped driver in Supercars historical past.

With Winterbottom to maneuver to sixth on the all-time checklist this weekend when he straps down for his 550th race begin, The Daily Telegraph can reveal the previous champion will drive for no less than one other two seasons with a significant sponsor set to again him for an additional deal.

Winterbottom is contracted with Team 18 subsequent season and can look to increase that deal into no less than 2023 in a transfer that may see him problem Lowndes report of 672 races begins.

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“It is a nice when milestones like this one come up,” Winterbottom mentioned.

“But hopefully I have a few more to come. I’m not planning on going anywhere for a while yet.”

While his age-old rivalry with Jamie Whincup will finish following the Bathurst 1000, Winterbottom has no plans to observe the V8 immortal into retirement.

Currently sitting seventh within the championship, Winterbottom, 40, has each the expertise and backers to make sure his profession continues.

“I have been in the sport for a long time and I feel I am still competitive,” Winterbottom mentioned.

“I am definitely not done yet. I feel I can offer a lot and have plenty of good races left. I am going to go on for sure. If I keep on getting results then I will keep on getting employed. Results determine if you have a job so I am not worried about my age. Where you are finishing is the only number that matter in the game.”

Winterbottom is trying to proceed his stable season begin when racing returns at Sydney Motorsport Park this weekend.

The collection will resume following a Covid enforced break with two apply periods on Friday.

“We are coming 7th in the championship at the moment and it is my plan to go forwards,” Winterbottom mentioned.

“There are a lot of points up for grabs with the four rounds at SMP and then the 300 points to finish the year at Bathurst. At worst I want to finish seventh but hopefully we can have a good run and finish higher. I want to pick off as many as I can.”

While overtaking Shane van Gisbergen to steal the crown this yr is all however not possible, Winterbottom has not given up on profitable his second title.

“We are one of the most improved team,” Winterbottom mentioned.

“And I feel like I am driving well so why not? We were almost last when I joined this team and we are now 7th so we will put ourselves into contention if we keep on improving.”

Winterbottom will strap down for race 550 at his residence observe – which is simply 5 kilometres away from Doonside, the place he was raised.

“I remember coming out here in the late 90s and I used to sneak in the back fence,” Winterbottom mentioned.

“I would ride the pushy down, lock it up and jump the fence. It was the only way I could watch Skaifey and Lowndes because I didn’t have enough money for a ticket.”

Why this yr’s Bathurst shall be extra brutal than ever

This year’s Bathurst 1000 is predicted to be one of the crucial brutal in years as drivers get set to sweat it out in summer time warmth on the finish of a gruelling six-week schedule to shut the Supercars season.

Supercars’ pinnacle occasion shall be held two months later than regular at first of December after Covid-enforced adjustments to the final 5 occasions on the V8 calendar which shall be squeezed into six weeks.

Mount Panorama’s marquee 1000km race – scheduled for a season-ending December 5 date – will observe 4 consecutive rounds at Sydney Motorsport Park, the final of which can characteristic two 250km races.

Following the month-long SMP swing, which begins this weekend after a three-month lay-off, the drivers then have one weekend to catch their breath earlier than the largest race of the yr at Bathurst.

Supercars veteran James Courtney mentioned it was going to be a testing finish to the season.

“It’s going to be crazy,” Courtney mentioned.

“It’s been three months (off) and then we’re ‘Bang’, four weekends in a row on and then one weekend off and then the biggest race of the year.

“That’s going to be pretty big. Going from two 250 km races that last weekend at Sydney then into the 1000km race, that’s going to be pretty tough.

“I don’t think anyone has thought that through with Western Sydney, it’s going to be crazy hot out at Eastern Creek then obviously out at Bathurst it will be the same.

“I think Bathurst will probably be one of the hardest ones that we have done in a long time.”

Supercars haven’t raced since Townsville in mid-July as a result of Covid outbreaks and lockdowns in New South Wales and Victoria and the following border problems.

The Bathurst 1000 was initially shifted to the beginning of November earlier than it was once more moved to the beginning of the summer time in one other main revision of the calendar.

Triple Eight crew boss Roland Dane anticipated the temperatures at Mount Panorama at first of December to check the drivers.

Dane’s stars Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup sit one and two within the championship.

“I don’t necessarily think coming off four weekends in a row is going to make a lot of difference but certainly the weather up there, that can make a lot of difference,” Dane mentioned.

“So the weather conditions are likely to make it tougher on everyone, on the crews, on everyone at the beginning of December.

“It’s two months after our normal date and of course well and truly in the Australian summer.

“I don’t expect it to be easy for anyone.”

Supercars nice Mark Skaife mentioned hotter climate in December may fully alter the race technique of groups and the best way the vehicles have been arrange late within the day.

“When the ambient temperature is hotter, the normal regimen in recent years is that you do three stints at the end to finish. I don’t know if you could do three stints to finish if it is significantly hotter,” Skaife mentioned.

“That might change teams policy about who starts and what the last couple of stints look like could be totally different.

“And it could change the way that you tune a car, too, because traditionally in October, late afternoon, it starts to cool off, more shadows, cooler track temperatures, cars go faster, you basically tune the car for the end of the day.

“On a hot summer style finish to the race, the track conditions will be markedly different given it’s a temporary racetrack, it’s a street circuit. So that will make a difference.

“So not only will the driver component of that be important, it will be about trying to use your head as to what the cars need to be like at the end of the race like that when the conditions are markedly different.”

Seven-time Supercars champion Whincup mentioned the quadruple header main into Bathurst would take a look at everybody in pit lane.

“We are all pretty aware of the craziness of it all. Five races in six weeks is big from a personnel point of view,” Whincup mentioned.

“Normally we race all weekend, come home from a weekend and spend two-three weeks pulling the car completely apart, servicing it all, putting it all back together again and off we go to the next.

“So just to be back-to-back-to-back-to-back, it’s a big ask. But we love a challenge in motorsport.”

There will even be a later begin time for this yr’s Bathurst 1000 at 12.15pm – the newest begin within the historical past of the occasion.

The newest the race had began beforehand was 11.30am in 2019.

Shattered bones, damaged ribs: Inside SVG’s brutal damage ache

Mark Skaife had all however dominated Shane van Gisbergen out.

“There is no way that he can race this weekend,” Skaife remarked to fellow commentator Neil Crompton as they stood on the finish of pit lane at Sandown, analysing the Triple Eight star’s situation.

It was the countdown to Saturday morning apply on the second spherical of the Supercars championship at a drizzly Sandown Raceway in March this yr.

Just two weeks earlier van Gisbergen had undergone surgery to have a plate and nine screws inserted into his shattered collarbone after a mountain biking accident.

He broken the AC joint, tore ligaments and likewise suffered damaged ribs within the biking mishap.

After back-to-back wins within the season-opening Bathurst 500, it was an accident which had threatened to place the brakes on van Gisbergen’s championship cost nearly as quickly because it had began.

Had the New Zealand racer been compelled to overlook the Sandown spherical, it may have put a extreme dent within the championship favorite’s 2021 title hopes, and even worse, introduced them undone.

But van Gisbergen wasn’t copping that.

He had simply two weeks to get himself able to race – and probably save his season.

Pushing by way of the ache after surgical procedure, van Gisbergen visited a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to advertise therapeutic and sought recommendation from Dakar Rally star Toby Price and motocross racer Chad Reed – each with loads of expertise with brutal racing accidents – about his restoration.

Defying most individuals’s expectations – together with Skaife’s – van Gisbergen not solely made it to the beginning grid at Sandown, he produced a masterful efficiency to say a clear sweep with wins in all three dash races to increase his lead within the championship.

“Not only did he race but he came out and beat them all,” Supercars nice Skaife mentioned.

“That was just extraordinary.”

Triple Eight crew boss Roland Dane noticed the work that had gone into getting a banged-up van Gisbergen on observe for the second spherical however even he was blown away by the dimensions of his Sandown heroics.

“It shows how dedicated he was when he made a mistake and injured himself in the course of being out exercising,” Dane mentioned.

“Then he worked very smartly with the team and the medical people around him to ensure that he was maximising the opportunity to get back in the car.

“He did a great job at Sandown, which was unexpected by him as well as everyone else.”

RECORD RUN

After producing one of many nice damage comebacks, van Gisbergen didn’t cease there.

The 2016 Supercars champion claimed victory within the first race at Symmons Plains in Launceston the subsequent spherical to increase his unbeaten streak to 6 races and equal essentially the most profitable begin to a Supercars season in historical past alongside Skaife (1994) and Allan Moffat (1977).

“It probably would have to be rated as one of the most dominant performances to commence the season that we have ever seen,” Skaife mentioned.

“I think everybody predicted that he was going to come out very strong but no one would have predicted the level of dominance that he would have displayed.

“I suppose in context, especially around his mountain biking accident and to have a broken collarbone and three broken ribs and to do what he did was just extraordinary.

“It would have to be rated as one of the best starts to a season in history.”

Van Gisbergen’s teammate – seven-time Supercars champion and soon-to-be crew boss Jamie Whincup – introduced his undefeated cost to an finish within the second race in Tasmania.

Since then, van Gisbergen has claimed one other 5 race wins to construct a 276-point lead within the championship over Whincup.

In all, the defending Bathurst 1000 champion has gained 11 of the 19 races staged this yr earlier than Covid compelled Supercars right into a three-month mid-season hiatus.

Skaife mentioned van Gisbergen was higher now than when he gained his maiden title in 2016 and his type matched any of the game’s greats on the peak of their careers.

“I think his raw speed has always been there,” Skaife mentioned.

“But as you get a little bit older and you’ve done more miles and you’ve seen more things and you experience more racing circumstances – what van Gisbergen is putting together now is absolutely the best that he has ever put on and arguably as good as any of the dominant players throughout the course of Supercars or Australian Touring Car Championship history.”

Dane agreed 32-year-old van Gisbergen was on the peak of his racing powers.

“He is certainly in the sweet spot and it could be a sweet spot that goes on for a long time. I certainly hope so,” Dane mentioned.

“He has got the right combination of experience and speed and he is still hungry.

“He is probably fitter than he has ever been and those things combine to have him in a really good space at the moment.

“His life is uncluttered and all he wants to do is drive race cars and win races.”

THE BURNING QUESTION

As sensible as van Gisbergen’s performances have been, one query has lingered within the background – would he have been as dominant if Scott McLaughlin have been nonetheless right here?

McLaughlin, after all, is the triple Supercars champion turned IndyCar rookie of the yr, who moved to the United States on the finish of final yr after sweeping all earlier than him in V8s.

It’s a query Skaife has mulled over a lot but it surely was finally the game’s loss to overlook out on a van Gisbergen v McLaughlin battle this yr.

“That’s one that we just don’t know. I have thought about it a lot,” Skaife mentioned.

“I actually think at the end of last year that the Shell V Power Mustangs weren’t really as good as Scott made them look.

“So even at Bathurst if you think about his (McLaughlin’s) raw pace compared to Shane or with Cam Waters, at the end of the race last year, they just weren’t fast enough.

“I suppose when you pose that question of what would it have played out like, it’s an enthralling question. But I’m sorry, we’re not going to get to answer it.

“We are being robbed of seeing a McLaughlin and van Gisbergen battle.”

Van Gisbergen was runner-up to McLaughlin in 2018 and 2019 and third behind McLaughlin and Waters in final yr’s championship struggle.

Dane predicted the battle would have been tight between the 2 Kiwi aces.

“Certainly the performance of the DJR cars would be closer to us,” Dane mentioned.

“I think he (van Gisbergen) would still be winning plenty of races and Scotty MC would be in the mix as well, they would be racing hard against each other.

“Scotty was a force to be reckoned with undoubtedly, so he would have been in the mix as well, that’s all you can say with any certainty.”

For his half, watching from throughout the Pacific, McLaughlin mentioned van Gisbergen was in “a league of his own right now”.

“It will be interesting to see how everyone comes back from the break,” McLaughlin mentioned.

“But if things stay the same in terms of pace and where everyone is at, I think there will be no stopping Shane as I think Jamie has already checked out.”

FUTURE FORCE

Van Gisbergen quietly prolonged his contract with Triple Eight till the tip of 2023 final summer time, which in some methods speaks to his character.

You gained’t see or hear a whole lot of self-promotion from the media-shy van Gisbergen, who has by no means coveted the movie star facet of the game. He simply needs to race vehicles.

“He recognises that some of the interactions outside of the team, outside of the car are a necessary part of the job – but it’s not his favourite part,” Dane mentioned.

“Some drivers are very happy to be all over TV or all over the media or whatever, whether it’s in Supercars or any other motorsport formula.

“But others prefer to adopt a low profile out of the car and Shane is one of them. He is still very engaged with the team and always has been.

“He is naturally a bit shy and doesn’t come out of his shell always if he is not completely comfortable.”

Whincup’s impending retirement from full-time driving will place much more highlight on van Gisbergen because the crew’s frontman at Triple Eight, which has signed teenager Broc Feeney to exchange the seven-time champion.

But Skaife doesn’t anticipate van Gisbergen’s on-track powers to decrease anytime quickly.

“I think that’s a spooky prospect for everybody because when you think about how well he is going, I can’t see him dropping off at the moment,” Skaife mentioned.

“It will only be his own motivation.

“Gen 3 will come along and I actually think with reduced downforce and some of the things that we are talking about with Gen 3 that he will probably go better versus the field.

“When you are driving as well as you are at that point of your career, it’s going to take a very organised team with some really good drivers to go and take it to him.”

Originally printed as Supercars: The deal that is set to make Mark Winterbottom the most capped driver in history



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