Points but pain in Paradise
Prodrive Racing (Australia) endured a tough end to the Castrol Gold Coast 600 with Mark Winterbottom narrowly missing the podium in fifth after a valiant drive with a less-than perfect handling car.
He finished just ahead of team-mate Chaz Mostert who came home sixth with Cameron Waters finishing where he qualified in 14th.
Winterbottom’s co-driver Dean Canto again impressed, making a strong start despite getting boxed in. By the time he pitted and handed the car over to the champion the #1 Ford was second overall.
Winterbottom battled hard and was in the podium positions until the closing laps where he dropped a couple of places as he struggled for pace.
Mostert’s race was similar with Steve Owen also starting strongly and racing at the front until passing off to the #55’s regular pilot. Like his team-mate he fought hard and stayed well inside the top five until the end of the race.
Junior pairing Cameron Waters and Jack Le Brocq enjoyed a much more favourable day, with Le Brocq running without incident and gaining valuable experience in just his second start on the Gold Coast.
Minor contact in the pack early slightly bent the #6’s steering but the duo battled on to record a finish and gain much-needed points.
Kiwi duo Chris Pither and Richie Stanaway suffered at the hands of the track’s concrete barriers with broken steering after contact knocking the #111 pairing out early in the race.
Earlier in qualifying Winterbottom and Mostert survived a tense session to advance to the top 10 shootout. The tight time gaps saw Waters miss the cut by just 0.15s to qualify an eventual p14 while Pither was a further two spots back in 16th.
In the shootout Mostert improved two places despite a wild lap, while Winterbottom set the eighth-fastest time in the one-lap session.
Mark Winterbottom - #1 The Bottle-O PRA Ford:
Top 10 Shootout: 8th
“We did a good job, the whole team did, to get us up the front and to be second just behind the outright leader after I got in the car was exactly what we needed. From there the bottom line is that we didn’t have the pace. Everyone is trying hard and it isn’t through lack of effort which is frustrating as we are all pushing hard. We got the most out of what we had but we have two more events remaining and will keep developing new things to bridge the gap.”
Dean Canto - #1 The Bottle-O PRA Ford:
"I was getting hopeful we were going to finish third so I could complete the full set of surfboard trophies as I’ve finished first and second here before, but it wasn’t to be. I knew Mark had a tough task ahead of him as he had to save fuel, the car wasn’t the greatest and I thought we might’ve had enough margin but clearly we didn’t. It is a shame not to be on the podium but we moved forward in both races and the car only has a few minor marks on it. It has been a very tough endurance campaign for Mark and me. It would’ve been nice to spray some champagne at some point but we’ll have to leave it at that for this year.”
Cameron Waters - #6 Monster Energy PRA Ford:
“We didn’t really have the car performance we wanted. It was good to get to race and to finish where we started. It was also good to finish in general as we haven’t been finishing many races lately but overall we weren’t happy with the set-up we had this weekend. There is some homework to do.”
Jack Le Brocq - #6 Monster Energy PRA Ford:
“It was a much better day today. I wanted to make sure I got through the race unscathed and while I was a bit hesitate at the start, I was feeling my way back into it after the crash. We got battered again at the start and the steering was bent from the first lap which wasn’t ideal. On the positive side we saved a lot fuel in the middle part of the race before Cam got in the car in 12th. He had a bit of a wounded car and came home 14th but we finished where we started.”
Chaz Mostert - #55 Supercheap Auto PRA Ford:
Top 10 Shootout: 6th
“We struggled to really dial the car in all weekend so we will have to make sure we come back next year with a pretty aggressive set-up and some new ideas to get our pace back as we’ve traditionally been in contention at Surfers Paradise. Today was a bit of a hard slog – we started sixth and Steve drove so well. He was in the top two or three co-drivers for pace but he wasn’t happy with the pace of the car either. When I jumped in I tried my hardest but just couldn’t quite match the pace of the guys around me. I wish we were further forward but we have a straight car and head to Pukekohe where we’ve had a lot of good results so we are confident we’ll bounce back.”
Steve Owen - #55 Supercheap Auto PRA Ford:
“It was a pretty tough weekend as we didn’t have the car speed to finish where our one-lap pace was. We did however collect a lot of points and the car is straight which is no small feat at this track. It is a quick turnaround to New Zealand so the debrief and planning for the next round will be important. The championship is fairly tight so if we can have a few strong results Chaz can jump up higher in the points.”
Chris Pither - #111 Super Black PRA Ford:
“Today we suffered at the harsh hands of the Surfers Paradise concrete walls. Richie attempted a pass and it didn’t quite come off but sadly the consequences were terminal. Broken steering resulted in contact with the wall and we were out on the spot.”
Tim Edwards – Team Principal:
"Today was a disappointing day for all of us as while we worked well as a team, strategised correctly and performed great pit stops, we simply did not have the pace required to get on the podium. Mark and Chaz fought hard late in the race and did what they could but we simply aren’t where we need to be pace-wise. There is work to be done but we will regroup and give it our all next time out. It is a quick turnaround to New Zealand, we enjoy racing at Pukekohe and I have no doubt we will be challenging at the front when we get there.”
CASTROL GOLD COAST 600 – RESULTS
1) Jamie Whincup/Paul Dumbrell – Triple Eight
2) Shane van Gisbergen/Alex Premat – Triple Eight
3) Scott McLaughlin/David Wall – GRM
4) Craig Lowndes/Steve Richards – Triple Eight
5) Mark Winterbottom/Dean Canto – Prodrive Racing Australia
6) Chaz Mostert/Steve Owen – Supercheap Auto Racing
14) Cameron Waters/Jack Le Brocq – Prodrive Racing Australia
DNF) Chris Pither/Richie Stanaway – Super Black Racing
DRIVER CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
1) Shane van Gisbergen – Triple Eight: 2812
2) Jamie Whincup – Triple Eight: 2664
3) Craig Lowndes – Triple Eight: 2427
4) Scott McLaughlin – Garry Rogers Motorsport: 2351
5) Will Davison – Tekno: 2235
6) Mark Winterbottom – Prodrive Racing: 2139
7) Chaz Mostert – Prodrive Racing: 2039
17) Cameron Waters – Prodrive Racing: 1296
18) Chris Pither– Super Black Racing: 1249
1) Triple Eight: 5486
2) HRT: 3613
3) GRM: 3558
4) Prodrive Racing Australia: 3460