Frosty runs hot
FORD star Mark Winterbottom erased any doubt about his ability to compete at this weekend's Super GP V8 Supercar event with a blistering qualifying display yesterday.
Reports had suggested Winterbottom, battling a dose of glandular fever, may have missed the event at the Surfers Paradise street circuit, but he quashed those to qualify fastest for today's top-10 shootout.
The Ford Performance Racing driver clocked a one minute 49.287 second lap to finish ahead of championship leader Jamie Whincup and Holden veteran Russell Ingall on the timesheets.
And the 28-year-old said despite being confined to his hotel room for most of the week, he was never a chance of missing the event.
“You'd have to be on your deathbed and they'd still have to wheel that away,” Winterbottom said.
“You always try to race. I don't feel good but we'll make the race and give it our best crack. It'd have to be a big thing to keep you away.”
Whincup had his own drama to overcome, as he battles to keep hold of his slender championship lead from Holden rival Will Davison.
The TeamVodafone ace careered into a wall during the day's second practice session, but recovered to claim his spot in the top-10 shootout.
“My mistake, I stuck it in the tyres, which hurt a little bit,” Whincup said.
“Full credit to the mechanics, they ripped the front end out, completely rechanged the side and the car in qualifying was as good as it was brand new.”
Almost all of the big guns secured their spot in the shootout, which will be crucial for a good grid position with passing opportunities rare on the narrow street circuit.
Davison and his Holden Racing Team partner Garth Tander are also in the 10, along with Ford stars Craig Lowndes, James Courtney and Steven Richards.
With drivers facing two 150km races today as part of a revamped schedule, Whincup conceded making the top 10 was vitalto ensure a good day.
“Yeah it is important,” he said.
“It's not massively important to be in the top three right now, but after the shootout you do need a good run to get up the front.
“Top two rows would be good enough with the amount of racing we do. It's important to be up there somewhere without doubt because it is hard to pass.”
Today's action begins with the top-10 shootout from 9am (Qld), before the first 150km race starts at 11.25am.
The second 150km race begins at 3.15pm.