Pepsi Max Crew title contender Mark Winterbottom leaves New Zealand with mixed emotions as the series leader drove from last to 11th after being spun in the opening laps.
Frosty qualified ninth but knew his race pace would serve him well. It did, but only to ensure he minimised his points loss after being the innocent victim when James Courtney and Jason Bright made contact behind him, spinning him in the process.
A brilliant safety car pit stop pushed him from 23rd to 18th and from there he moved through the pack to his eventual 11th place finish and a 239-point overall lead.
Cam qualified close behind the championship leader and was in the hunt for a top 10 all day.
Another slick stop jumped him well into the top 10 and following his final stop he was battling closely with Courtney.
A lunge from behind by Courtney’s team-mate, Garth Tander, pushed the #6 driver wide and into Courtney which resulted in the #22 spinning.
Despite having to take avoiding action to not be spun by Tander, stewards deemed Cam was at fault and a drive-through penalty dropped him to 22nd by race end.
Mark Winterbottom - #5 Pepsi Max PRA Ford:
Race 30 Quali: 9th
Race 30 Result: 11th
"That was bad to be going backwards and facing the wrong way. We had pretty good pace and just pushed on when we got back facing the right way. We consolidated what could’ve been a disaster. The car was good; probably the best it’s been all weekend and we didn’t get to use it. It was a good result, and whether it’s Dave or Craig, we are maintaining the gap. We need to qualify well at Phillip Island and take that momentum into Homebush. If we didn’t have the issue at the start we would’ve been ok.”
Cameron Waters - #6 Pepsi Max PRA Ford:
Race 30 Quali: 11th
Race 30 Result: 22nd
"We built on the car and my pace every session and tried to improve it. We rolled out for qualifying and put a pretty good lap together. Frosty was just ahead of me so I was happy with our one-lap pace. In the race I got a good start and was cruising around – strong on the soft tyre, but I didn’t push it. After I put the hards on I was pacey again and pulling away from the guys behind me. After my final stop I came out between the two HRT cars and had a bit of fun battling with them until I was the meat in their sandwich at the hairpin. I had nowhere to go. Garth was inside of me and pretty much pushed me into Courtney who got turned around. The penalty is absolutely ridiculous – they should’ve looked at it after the race. But we don’t make those decisions.”
Tim Edwards – Team Principal
"Today certainly didn’t pan out as expected. Mark drove an amazing race – to come from last to 11th was a real credit to him and the team as his speed and the strategy we adopted meant we minimised the points loss. Cam deserved a lot more today. His penalty for the incident with the two HRT cars was a joke. If he hadn’t been dived by Tander he wouldn’t have been anywhere near Courtney. Those two guys are like magnets – they can’t stay away from each other, and today we paid the price.”
ITM 500 AUCKLAND RESULTS – SUNDAY
1) Jamie Whincup – Triple Eight
2) Craig Lowndes – Triple Eight
3) Scott Pye – DJR Team Penske
4) David Reynolds – The Bottle-O Racing Team
5) Michael Caruso – Kelly Racing
11) Mark Winterbottom – Prodrive Racing
22) Cameron Waters – Prodrive Racing
DRIVER CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
1) Mark Winterbottom – Prodrive Racing: 2779
2) David Reynolds – The Bottle-O Racing Team: 2540
3) Craig Lowndes – Triple Eight: 2539
4) Garth Tander – HRT: 2297
5) Shane van Gisbergen – Tekno: 2269
8) Chaz Mostert – Pepsi Max Crew (injured): 2017
35) Cameron Waters – Pepsi Max Crew: 478
1) Prodrive Racing: 4948
2) Triple Eight: 4660
3) HRT: 4559