Mark Winterbottom has further solidified his quest for a V8 Supercar championship, securing more valuable points with a convincing second placing in his Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon at the Bahrain International Circuit this evening.
Starting on the front row of the grid, the Ford Performance Racing driver pushed TeamVodafone's Jamie Whincup to his fourth consecutive victory after leading the race in its early stages.
Winterbottom and Whincup stormed away from the field over the 37 laps, eventually crossing the finishing line some 14 seconds ahead of third place-getter Shane Van Gisbergen.
"This is a really promising start to the season," Winterbottom said.
"Campbell's (Mark's engineer – Little) doing a great job and the synergy between us and the car is improving every time we hit the track.
"Jamie's having a pretty good run at the moment but we're not making it easy for him – and don't plan on doing so for the rest of the season," Winterbottom added.
Winterbottom's Ford Performance Racing teammate Steven Richards finished the final race in the Middle East in 15th place with a disastrous pit stop due to a cross-threaded wheel nut costing him a top-ten finish.
"It's been a tough weekend!" Richo quipped, making the understatement of the round.
"These things (such as the wheel nut and brake issues) happen probably once every 100 races so you have to take it lightly.
"The team did everything they could to give me a competitive Dunlop Super Dealer Falcon – and bar the problems – we qualified well and had great race pace which is promising when we come home and race Clipsal in a fortnight."
Team Principal Tim Edwards was also buoyed by this weekend's results.
"Obviously we'd like to be winning some races but overall the indications are that we're on the right track to some better performances this year.
"I really feel for Steve (Richards) ... we let him down this weekend but against the adversity he put his head down and did the best job he could which is a real credit to his character ... his qualifying efforts and race pace was up there so without the dramas the result would have been much better," Edwards added.
The FPR Falcons next take to the track in Adelaide for Event Three of the 2010 V8 Supercar Championship at the Clipsal 500 on March 11-14.