Ford Pepsi Max Crew has lost a podium finish just minutes after a gripping opening race on the Gold Coast where Frosty and Chaz put on a show to come from low grid spots to the front of the field.
Frosty qualified outside the top 10 and despite neither he nor co-driver Steve Owen being happy with the handling of their factory Ford, they ran a smart strategy and stayed out of trouble to emerge as a podium contender in the closing stages.
He was closing on the much slower Tim Slade in third and at the final corner of the final lap the pair made contact as Slade braked mid-corner, aiming to slow the title contender.
The pair made light contact and Frosty used his straight-line speed to pass his opponent on the line.
Only after returning to the podium area and celebrating with his team and when heading towards the presentation area were Winterbottom and Owen informed they had lost their position and been demoted to fourth.
Despite no customary post-race investigation the penalty was given costing the team vital points in its title quest.
Chaz drove from a lap down to finish sixth after another mature drive saw him avoid the carnage around him and use his strategy to his advantage.
Mark Winterbottom & Steve Owen - #5 Pepsi Max FPR Ford: 4th
Winterbottom: “You are allowed to block really hard on the last couple of laps and (Slade) was doing that. But he tried to back me up at the last corner and we are both trying to race to the finish. It always favours the guy in front and it seems it did again today. We had a good race otherwise and despite a few little errors it was good to fight our way back through and have good pace throughout the stint. I feel a little bit robbed that we didn’t get on the podium, it’s a case of he said, she said and we ended up fourth. I am surprised they addressed the situation so quickly. The situation favours the guy in front and now we’ve set a precedent that you can drive to a line and force the guy behind to hit you knowing they’ll lose the position anyway. It is going to make it hard to have last lap thrillers. I have never seen something like that happen where your car is in the podium area and they take the result off you.”
Chaz Mostert & Paul Morris - #6 Pepsi Max FPR Ford: 6th
Mostert: “The race didn’t feel that long but it is fantastic to get sixth. I don’t know how we did it. The safety car and the positioning of other cars helped but to pass Whincup and get back on the lead lap was fantastic as it allowed us to have the finish we did when the next safety car came out. We were aiming for the top 10 and to get sixth and be in sight of third was good. We lost tyre life late and had to be conservative on the kerbs so I eased it off to look after the car. I gave it a nice big scrape at the Turn 2 exit wall which means there is a bit of work tonight but that’s racing here. These points are also good for our title battle. We are also just in touch for the Enduro Cup but we need a big one tomorrow.”
Tim Edwards – Team Principal:
“I don’t even know where to start talking about the ridiculous nature of the finish and the decision made by the officials to strip us of a podium while we were actually walking to the podium. No one is denying there was close racing but to undertake no investigation, gain no data or facts and just react – I’ve never seen that before. It has cost us valuable points and sends the message that our sport shouldn’t aim to be entertaining. It shouldn’t take away from great drives from Frosty and particularly Chaz who again came from a lap down to show his talent again. It was a tough day for the other cars in our stable and overall the result is a bitter pill to swallow but tomorrow is a new day and we are all motivated to show what we can do.”
GOLD COAST 600 RESULTS – SATURDAY
1) Shane van Gisbergen/Jono Webb – Tekno Autosports
2) Jamie Whincup/Paul Dumbrell – Triple Eight
3) Tim Slade/Tony D’Alberto – Walkinshaw Racing
4) Mark Winterbottom/Steve Owen – Ford Pepsi Max Crew
5) Michael Caruso/Dean Fiore – Kelly Racing
6) Chaz Mostert/Paul Morris – Ford Pepsi Max Crew
DRIVER CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
1) Jamie Whincup – Triple Eight: 2685 points
2) Mark Winterbottom – Ford Pepsi Max Crew: 2370
3) Craig Lowndes – Triple Eight: 2259
4) Shane van Gisbergen – Tekno: 2246
5) Fabian Coulthard – Brad Jones Racing: 2096
6) Chaz Mostert – Ford Pepsi Max Crew: 1994
TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
1) Triple Eight: 4994 points
2) Ford Pepsi Max Crew: 4491
3) HRT: 3886