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Bend to Bathurst: Winterbottom’s discovery mission

MARK Winterbottom believes this weekend’s OTR SuperSprint will uncover valuable lessons that can be applied to the 2023 Repco Bathurst 1000.

It’s 10 years since Winterbottom broke through at the Mountain, in combination with Steven Richards for Ford Performance Racing (now Tickford).

Winterbottom’s first two Bathurst 1000s with Team 18 produced top 10 results, but the last two have been a tough slog (16th in 2021, 15th in 2022).

There are plenty of unknowns attached to the maiden Gen3 Great Race in October, but The Bend Motorsport Park’s characteristics might provide some initial answers.

“Really looking forward to going to The Bend. I think it’s getting to that time of year where the enduros are starting to come, so it’s probably the most exciting part of the year, this time,” said Winterbottom.

“It’s another good opportunity to race at a big, fast, flowing track and I think we can learn a lot from Tailem Bend for Bathurst as well.”

The #18 DeWalt Camaro of Mark Winterbottom at Sydney Motorsport Park. Pic: Supplied

Beyond that, it’s a chance for Winterbottom to continue climbing up the championship standings. The 42-year-old is currently 10th.

“It’s a good opportunity to see where we’re at and keep trying to push our momentum and keep scoring points and try and get another trophy,” he added.

“It’s a track that is very tough and if you have a good setup, a good car and a clean run, you can get a good result.”

Teammate Scott Pye, who has a fresh BP Ultimate livery for this weekend, tipped low tyre degradation if the weather is dry.

“Strategy is always difficult because of the tyre wear well, the delta is not massive,” he said.

“There’s no large undercut or anything like that, but the racing’s usually pretty close and I think with this new car as well it’s going to be even better because in the high-speed we’ve seen we’re able to follow closer, so I think that the racing will hopefully be more exciting than it has been in the past there.”

Repco Supercars Championship action at The Bend begins tomorrow.

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