Sandown 500 Driver Thoughts

15 October 2018

Mark Winterbottom and Dean Canto (No. 5 The Bottle-O Ford Falcon FG X) return for their third year paired together in Car 5 for the Enduros, the only Tickford Racing entry to retain both drivers from 2017. Despite Canto being spun on Lap 1 at Sandown last year, the duo recovered to finish ninth in the 2017 edition at Sandown. 

No. 5 The Bottle-O Ford Falcon FG X
Mark Winterbottom
“I’m excited to start the Enduro campaign, it’s a good chance to try and turn this season around. I love working with Dean, so I’m very happy to be back with him again. We’ve both been around a while, and experience can win these races, so we’re looking forward to it. It’s our third year together and we’re comfortable with all the little things, seat fit, driver changes and all, so hopefully we’ll have a smooth weekend and be fighting up the front.” Practice 1 (co-driver): 1m09.07s, 25th
Practice 2: 1m08.50s, 15th
Practice 3 (co-driver): 1m09.42s, 22nd 

Mark Winterbottom
“We had dramas really, the day hasn’t gone smoothly. Practice 1 we had dramas, and that led on to Practice 2. I think Practice 3 was the first time the car was genuinely doing what it probably should be doing, unfortunately it’s not doing good things. Deano had brand new tyres on his last run and didn’t get a very good lap, you don’t get better quality tyres so we were just slow to be honest, the car’s not quick enough. I thought I was about top eight in my session, but we’ve lost competitiveness and we’re struggling a bit. A tough day.” 

Saturday at the Sandown 500 was one of the more treacherous and unpredictable days in terms of weather in recent Supercars history. Constantly changing conditions that included sunshine, cloud cover, wind, chilly temperatures, rain and even hail made for a nerve-wracking afternoon at Sandown Raceway across practice, qualifying and two qualifying races that set the field for Sunday’s 500-kilometre race.

When the rooster tails cleared, it was Mark Winterbottom and Dean Canto (No. 5 The Bottle-O Ford Falcon FG X) who will start furthest up the front. After Winterbottom qualified the car 15th in the morning, Canto elected to stay on track when rain and hail showers hit the track, moving up to eighth, and Frosty vaulted four positions at the start of the second race, eventually finishing fifth, which is where Car 5 will roll off from on Sunday. 

Practice 4: 1m16.97s, 22nd
Qualifying: 1m08.48s, 15th
Quali Race 1: 8th
Quali Race 2: 5th   

Mark Winterbottom
“Yesterday cost us a lot with all our problems, so we kind of went into today a little bit raw. Practice was wet, and qualifying we had dramas with the car’s handling. Deano did a great job to stay clean in his race and moved us from 15th to eighth, good strategy staying out on a wet track with slicks. It’s experience and that’s what gets you these endurance races. In my race, started eighth and had a really good start and got up to fourth, but we just weren’t quick enough to stay there. The car’s not too far away, but there’s a good chunk of time lost on the straights, which makes you vulnerable here. It’s not a great way to race, but you don’t give up. We’re on the third row tomorrow, we bought a ticket in a good spot, so anything can happen.” 

Race 24 Start: 5th
Race 24 Finish: 17th    

Mark Winterbottom
“The car did the same thing all weekend, to be honest, and the race was the worst it was. I don’t know what it is yet, but the car dropped off a cliff. After about 20 laps we were reasonably competitive, but then we dropped off a cliff and we really struggled, and the next stint we really struggled, I couldn’t turn into the corner without losing the rear, and once it stopped sliding it would understeer. Three years ago we won, today I got lapped, tough day.”

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