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Winterbottom’s golden opportunity at Albert Park

MARK Winterbottom’s first big chance of the 2024 Repco Supercars Championship comes today, with a golden opportunity to flash his race pace at the pointy end.

‘Frosty’ has passed at least seven cars in each of the first three races of the season, something which he attributes to a mix of poor qualifying form (19th, 21st and 20th) and a fast race car.

Starting from fourth for Race 2 of the MSS Security Melbourne SuperSprint this afternoon, Winterbottom will only have polesitter Cam Waters and Triple Eight duo Will Brown and Broc Feeney ahead of him when the lights go out at 2:55pm AEDT.

In five-plus seasons at Team 18, Winterbottom’s sole podium remains his victory in the Saturday leg of last year’s Darwin Triple Crown.

Reflecting on a wild Albert Park Race 1 where he charged from 20th to 11th, the 2015 champion lamented making hard work for himself.

Winterbottom aboard the #18 DeWalt Camaro. Pic: Supplied

“It was good to pass so many cars but it’d be nice to not have to pass anyone and lead from the front, so we’re only passing them because we put ourselves out of position,” he said.

“I feel we made the most of a bad situation.

“It was a good hitout to see what sort of car we have, and I think it’s decent.

“We can still tune it up, but we have to be careful because when you go chasing something you can lose strength in other areas and not go any faster.

“We’ll have a look at data and tweak it without reinventing it and have another crack.”

Winterbottom, who has a new race engineer this year in Som Sharma, has seven race wins at Albert Park – all in the non-championship era.

Mark Winterbottom and David Reynolds. Pic: Supplied

After a Bathurst 500 where new teammate David Reynolds dominated the intra-team stakes, it was Winterbottom who held the upper hand on day one on the Formula 1 stage.

“Mark went really well at the last qualifying session and we plugged in his car and it was much better for the race,” said Reynolds, who finished 16th.

“I wish we had the race car that we ended with at the start of the day as our progression would have been a lot better.

“But all in all, we have straight cars and nothing went horribly wrong.”

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