THE concrete canyon that is the Surfers Paradise Street Circuit has claimed many a scalp but Mark Winterbottom is not among them.
The Team 18 veteran is easily the leader when it comes to the most race starts at the Gold Coast whilst maintaining a 100 percent finishing record.
Of the 36 races Winterbottom has started, he is yet to record a DNF – finishing 35 of 35 plus one no-result (when extreme weather forced the cancellation of the Sunday race in 2018).
Next on the list, including the non-championship races pre-2002, is Tim Slade with 21 finishes out of a possible 21.
Of course, sometimes making the start is not guaranteed in itself as both Chaz Mostert and Scott McLaughlin discovered at the most recent Gold Coast Supercars round in 2019.
Mostert crashed out of the entire weekend during the Saturday Top 10 Shootout, while McLaughlin’s Shell V-Power Mustang spectacularly ended up on its side a day later in qualifying.
Winterbottom has contested every Gold Coast round since his 2004 rookie season with Larkham Motor Sport.
From his 35 completed races at Surfers Paradise, he has two wins, 10 podiums and 19 top five results – all of which were achieved with the Tickford Racing organisation.
“Surfers Paradise is a track I’ve missed, it’s one I really enjoy,” said ‘Frosty’.
“It’s going to be a huge event, it’s always a great atmosphere up there. Queensland at that time of year is beautiful so I can’t wait to get back up there.
“The track is always very tricky to get right. It’s a big-commitment track, one that rewards that big lap.
“When you get it right it’s when your mirror knicks the wall and when you get it wrong it’s when your door caves in, it’s millimetre perfect but it’s always a tough place.
“Qualifying is everything because it sets up track position, but this year our race length is quite long: 85 laps, one driver, it’s going to be qualifying and then survival the two parts to the weekend.”
FLASHBACK: When the Rat ruled the Gold Coast streets
This weekend’s Gold Coast 500 represents Winterbottom’s 50th round start for Team 18, with whom he’ll continue until at least 2024.
“Fifty rounds with the team has gone really quick, but that’s why I love it and which is why I’m here for two more years,” said the 41-year-old.
“I think Gold Coast is a good opportunity for us to go well, people have been there since 2019 so although it’s old in some ways it’s new because we haven’t been there for three years.
“It’s been a good track for me in the past so I’m looking forward to it.”