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‘Abnormal’ issue hindering Bathurst 1000 winner

“WE’RE struggling.”

A DECADE on from when he famously conquered the Mountain, Mark Winterbottom is not mincing his words about his 2023 Great Race preparations.

It was in 2013 that Winterbottom and Ford Performance Racing broke through at Bathurst, ‘Frosty’ holding off a last-lap attack from archrival Jamie Whincup.

But while Whincup (or his primary driver Broc Feeney) will start today’s race from the front row, Winterbottom/Michael Caruso are out of 19th and have work to do in the 20-minute warm-up at 8am AEDT.

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“The guys did a good job, they changed quite a few bits in between sessions, but we’ll have to have a good look at it (overnight) because the two cars aren’t correlating, which is abnormal when our team builds the same cars and they should set up the same,” said Winterbottom.

“Michael and I both feel the same thing with the car. We need to get to the bottom of it and keep working, the crew’s working really hard.”

Mark Winterbottom. Pic: Supplied

It’s a different sentiment on the other side of the garage, Scott Pye having been top 10 in multiple sessions this week and qualifying 12th despite clipping the wall.

“Really happy with the last session,” Pye, a two-time Bathurst 1000 runner-up, said of Practice 6 yesterday.

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“I think we ticked a lot of boxes. We ran heavy tanks and we were really competitive on that at the end, so overall I’m pretty happy.

“I’m kicking myself a bit still from (Friday) that I damaged the car and didn’t make the Shootout, but I think the car’s quicker than I showed and that’s a good thing for a thousand kilometres.

“There’s plenty of opportunity and tyre degradation is going to be a huge issue for everyone. Now we just focus on 161 laps.”

Race start is scheduled for 11:15am.

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