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Winterbottom raring for redemption with revamped crew

MARK Winterbottom and Team 18 are out for redemption on the Gold Coast after a period of turmoil.

Having been on track to finish 11th in the Repco Bathurst 1000, Winterbottom was not classified and thus bagged zero points after running out of fuel and needing to pit as the chequered flag dropped.

There’s since been upheaval, with Car #18 race engineer Manuel Sanchez and data engineer Julia McGarry moving on, and team manager Bruin Beasley resigning.

Matt Saunders and Rory Jackermis have slotted in for Sanchez and McGarry, respectively, for at least the Surfers Paradise round.

“Obviously, a few things have changed on my car,” said Winterbottom.

“So with change comes different opportunity, I’m teaming back up with Matt Saunders to see what we can do.

“We’ve got nothing to lose so we’re racing for the win, we’ll go aggressive to try and get a result.

“Hopefully it’s a good weekend. I’ve gone well there before and the surfboard’s the best trophy other than the Bathurst and championship trophy to win.

“I’ve got a couple at home, so I’d love to add to it with another win up there for sure.”

The Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500 is a step into the unknown, Gen3 cars having never run at the track before, not even for prototype/demonstration laps.

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One key circuit change that has been made year-on-year is the removal of tyre bundles at the beach chicane, which Winterbottom expressed displeasure at – contrary to other drivers. Instead, an enhanced sensor system will be used to police track limits.

“I don’t like the kerb sensor system at all to be honest,” said ‘Frosty’.

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“I think the kerbs change whether you get a kerb strike or not, whereas a bundle is literally, you hit it, you do damage to your car.

“I think if you make a mistake you should be punished.

“The sensors are kind of like Hawk-Eye at the tennis, no one’s really a fan of them.

“I get the safety reasons, but my preference is to have tyre bundles, so, if you hit it and rip the front wheel off it, that’s your problem, like, if you’re in the wall it’s game over, but it is what it is and we’ll go as hard as we always do to get a result.”

Repco Supercars Championship action at Surfers Paradise will begin with Friday practice.

MORE: Winterbottom Gold Coast winner joins Sports Sedan field

The DeWalt Camaro of Mark Winterbottom. Pic: Supplied/Mark Horsburgh
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