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When Sandown kickstarted Winterbottom winning ways

IT was 17 years ago, in the 77th championship race start of his career, that Mark Winterbottom broke through.

The stage was none other than the 2006 Sandown 500.

Winterbottom had made a good start to life at Ford Performance Racing, but Jason Bright had been responsible for the team’s two victories across the opening seven rounds.

When the pair got to team up in the enduros, they made it count at the very first opportunity.

“My first ever race win was with Brighty in 2006,” Winterbottom recalled.

“I started the race and was only meant to do the 54 laps but I actually did, I think it was, 89 or 91 laps, so quite a big chunk of the race.

“Then I watched the rest of it in the garage as a race fan which was really weird because you’re in more control in the car: you’re comfortable and when you’re out of the car it’s actually quite nerve-wracking being a fan and watching your other guy do the work.”

The #6 Falcon shared that day by Winterbottom and Bright. Pic: an1images.com / Justin Deeley

Adding to the nerves was a grandstand finish, as Bright just held off Rick Kelly to the tune of 0.1586s at the chequered flag.

“It was a great moment, it has great memories for me and first ever race win was quite a big one,” Winterbottom continued.

“The ‘500’ is one that I regard very highly and first race win always means the most.”

Winterbottom carried that momentum forward to take nine top three results (including his first solo win, at Phillip Island) from the remaining 13 races that season.

He again won the Sandown 500 in 2015, with Steve Owen.

Now at Team 18, Winterbottom is contesting this weekend’s Sandown enduro with co-driver Michael Caruso.

Mark Winterbottom (right) with Richie Stanaway. Pic: Ross Gibb

V8 Sleuth’s coverage of the 2023 Penrite Oil Sandown 500 is proudly presented by Biante – Fuel your passion with winning model cars. Visit Biante here to check out their range of model cars in a range of scales from 1:64 to 1:10.

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