NO MORE THE BRIDES­MAID, SAYS WIN­TER­BOT­TOM

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - JAMES PHELPS

MARK Win­ter­bot­tom laughs be­fore shak­ing his head.

“That is a load of crap,’’ he said af­ter be­ing asked if there was more pres­sure on him now he was lead­ing the V8 Su­per­cars cham­pi­onship.

“I don’t mind lead­ing. I would rather be in front than chas­ing, and any­one that says oth­er­wise is kid­ding them­selves.’’

Win­ter­bot­tom is right where he wants to be as he heads into the latest V8 round, be­gin­ning to­day at Queens­land Race­way in Ip­swich.

Fol­low­ing nine years of al­mosts, he is de­ter­mined to turn things around.

The man they called Frosty is lead­ing the cham­pi­onship by 248 points.

The peren­nial brides­maid to Jamie Whin­cup is bolt­ing down the aisle – and he isn’t go­ing to slow down even though many are tip­ping he will trip over.

Some have sug­gested the pres­sure is now on him be­cause he is lead­ing. It is his to lose – not to win.

“I am not wor­ried about any­thing like that,’’ Win­ter­bot­tom said.

“I don’t even think about it. Not when my car is quick.

“If you have the right car then noth­ing else mat­ters.

“There is no ex­tra pres­sure lead­ing. The pres­sure is on the guys chas­ing.

“They’re the ones who have to get the points.

“Right now I have one bad round up my sleeve.

“I am in a po­si­tion where I can have a shocker and still be in it, where the same sort of round would prob­a­bly put some of the oth­ers out.’’

With his life­long neme­sis Whin­cup seem­ingly out of the reck­on­ing fol­low­ing a shock­ing sea­son start that has him al­most 400 points off the pace, all eyes are now on Win­ter­bot­tom.

So will he play it safe and at­tempt to con­serve points? Or will he go all out, foot to the floor?

“We have to keep push­ing on,’’ Win­ter­bot­tom said.

“We need to keep on go­ing for the wins. The car is per­form­ing right now and we need to make the most of it.

“I want to keep the form go­ing and I won’t be try­ing to pro­tect my lead.

“This is the point of the sea­son when the other teams start to fire back, so we have to meet fire with fire.’’

Win­ter­bot­tom tried to push last year while in a sim­i­lar po­si­tion. He failed.

“I at­tacked last year but the car just wasn’t there,’’ Win­ter­bot­tom said.

“Ev­ery point I lost felt like I was los­ing three, not one be­cause we were just strug­gling. We weren’t quick enough and we just went back­wards. I have the same men­tal­ity this year, it is just we have a bet­ter car.

“I would be com­fort­able right now even if I was be­hind be­cause I know I can win races with this car.

“Last year it felt like we were stuck in mud.

“We tried to at­tack but the re­sults just got worse and worse.’’

There are no lessons learned from pre­vi­ous years, ac­cord­ing to Win­ter­bot­tom, be­cause rac­ing is not rocket science. He knows only a quick car and good re­sults will give him that cham­pi­onship he so de­sires.

“We are in ex­actly the po­si­tion I want to be in,’’ Win­ter­bot­tom said.

“And now we just have to make sure we go on with it. Ip­swich and SMP are both tough rounds.

“I am hop­ing that we have good cars and get good re­sults. I want to ex­tend the lead and go into the en­durances races with the big­gest buf­fer pos­si­ble.’’

Pic­ture: ZAC SIM­MONDS

DE­TER­MI­NA­TION: Mark Win­ter­bot­tom has his eye on the crown and says he has a bet­ter car to achieve it.

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