Champ charges in surfers opener
4th position follow Frosty and Dean
Prodrive Racing (Australia) duo Mark Winterbottom and Dean Canto finally put their experience and obvious pace to good use, charging from ninth on the grid to finish just one spot shy of the podium in the opening race of the Castrol Gold Coast 600.
After a frustrating qualifying session blighted by kerb sensor issues the team took the unusual step to start Winterbottom in the #1 The Bottle-O Ford.
Against a field of co-drivers he made what he described as one of the best starts of his career to vault to fourth in the opening laps. That soon became third and after he handed over to Canto during a safety car stop, they found themselves second.
As strategies played out Canto stayed in the top 10 before handing over to Winterbottom in fourth – a position he held until race end.
Steve Owen started alongside Winterbottom and enjoyed a similarly strong start to the race despite not enjoying the handling of his #55 Supercheap Auto machine.
Race strategy and safety cars dictated he ran a lot longer than normal but when he handed over to Mostert a high overall finish was on the cards. Mostert, like his co-driver, was unhappy with the set-up and would find the tyre bundle at Turn 11 late in the race.
This dropped him out of the top 10 only for late race dramas to see him move back to ninth by the chequered flag.
Kiwi duo Richie Stanaway and Chris Pither avoided early mid-pack chaos and drove a measured race to secure 10th place, an encouraging result on Stanaway’s Gold Coast Supercars debut.
Stable mates Cameron Waters and Jack Le Brocq had an early finish after Le Brocq made contact with the Turn 11 wall, damaging the Monster Energy Ford and putting the duo out of the race before Waters was able to take the reins.
Mark Winterbottom - #1 The Bottle-O PRA Ford: 4th
“It was a tough day but we did a really good job with the strategy. I questioned the engineers a lot but we stuck to it and it paid off. It was cool to race hard early and have a good start and pass a lot of cars. Dean did a great job to hold off the main guys in his stint. In general we were fourth-to-fifth quickest and we finished fourth so to do that you have to be pretty happy with where we ended the race. The pit stops were great and we had a very good race overall.”
Dean Canto - #1 The Bottle-O PRA Ford:
"We rolled the dice with a different strategy and it started to work out ok when I got in for the first pit stop. The safety car then came out and it hurt our strategy but I put my head down and only a couple of the regular drivers got past me. I minimised the loss from there and then our last driver change was our best of the Enduro Cup and that allowed us to jump a few spots in the pit stop. Overall the speed of the pit stops and the strategy gave us a better result than if I had started. We need to work on the car to bridge the gap to the top three.”
Cameron Waters - #6 Monster Energy PRA Ford:
“We didn’t quite get it together in qualifying and lost a couple of tenths in the back chicane. Jack had a good start and stayed out of trouble despite getting a bit of damage from the big pile up at the hairpin. Unfortunately he clipped the wall at Turn 11 and that put us out. Hopefully the car isn’t too damaged but I know the crew will get it back out there for tomorrow. It is disappointing but watching the race showed me some areas where I can improve for tomorrow so I’ll put that to good use tomorrow.”
Jack Le Brocq - #6 Monster Energy PRA Ford:
“The race was going ok even though the car was wounded from earlier in the race when there was a big incident at Turn 4. I was just going through the motions of the race and the rear of the car was getting looser. In the entry to Turn 11 I hit the inside wall and that pitched us into the outside wall which wasn’t good and ended our day. Hopefully we’ll bounce back tomorrow.”
Chaz Mostert - #55 Supercheap Auto PRA Ford:
“I didn’t do the best job in qualifying and that made it harder for Steve starting further down the pack. He did a really good job to stay out of the drama that was going on and he handed me back a straight car. We just didn’t have the pace and I didn’t feel comfortable and to do fast lap times was easy but the tyres went off which hurt me the most. We need to work on our platform tonight and see what we can come up with for tomorrow.”
Steve Owen - #55 Supercheap Auto PRA Ford:
“It was a tricky day and a very long stint for a co-driver. That said, we ran up the front and everything went ok but I found the car hard to drive and it obviously caught Chaz out. We need to find some pace overnight because we can’t match the speed of the lead few guys.”
Chris Pither - #111 Super Black PRA Ford:
“I think we had a reasonable finish from where we started and I think we can learn more from qualifying today and maximise our speeds through the chicanes tomorrow which will make us relatively competitive. If we can tickle the car up a bit and start further up the field I think we are on for a higher overall finish inside the top 10.”
Richie Stanaway - #111 Super Black PRA Ford:
“It was good fun today and I came through with Steve and just tried to follow him and keep up with the pace. I didn’t get a lot of practice so I just wanted to build up to the limit without making mistakes as it is easy to do here. I chipped away and got a lot more laps than what I was anticipating. I am pretty happy to finish in the top 10 which was a great result for us. We can make the car quite a bit better overnight so there is big room for improvement which should lead to a better run.”
Tim Edwards – Team Principal:
"As usual at this track it was a day of extremes and we enjoyed and endured in equal measure. Starting Frosty had its risks but the team backed each other and we made it work to our benefit which was encouraging for everyone. There are lots of stories out of today but we know we need to qualify better and if we can do that it will make a big difference to our final results if we can start higher up. It will be a busy night but we all feel we can make the necessary steps forward.”
CASTROL GOLD COAST 600 – RESULTS
1) Shane van Gisbergen/Alex Premat – Triple Eight
2) Scott McLaughlin/David Wall – GRM
3) Jamie Whincup/Paul Dumbrell – Triple Eight
4) Mark Winterbottom/Dean Canto – Prodrive Racing Australia
5) James Moffatt/James Golding – GRM
9) Chaz Mostert/Steve Owen – Supercheap Auto Racing
10) Chris Pither/Richie Stanaway – Super Black Racing
DNF) Cameron Waters/Jack Le Brocq – Prodrive Racing Australia
DRIVER CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
1) Shane van Gisbergen – Triple Eight: 2674
2) Jamie Whincup – Triple Eight: 2514
3) Craig Lowndes – Triple Eight: 2307
4) Scott McLaughlin – Garry Rogers Motorsport: 2222
5) Will Davison – Tekno: 2169
6) Mark Winterbottom – Prodrive Racing: 2028
7) Chaz Mostert – Prodrive Racing: 1937
17) Chris Pither– Super Black Racing: 1249
18) Cameron Waters – Prodrive Racing: 1233
1) Triple Eight: 5198
2) HRT: 3463
3) GRM: 3360
4) Prodrive Racing Australia: 3286