Frosty stalls after emotional victory
MARK Winterbottom only got over his incredible maiden Bathurst victory last Thursday.
And it was a hell of a comedown for the Pepsi Max Crew FPR Ford driver nicknamed 'Frosty', following his nail-biting win over Jamie Whincup at the classic endurance event.
"It hit me hard on Thursday when I just crashed emotionally," Winterbottom said.
"I went to bed at 7.30pm and got up at 7.30am the next day.
"It was seriously emotional for me standing on the podium, seeing all those Ford flags waving, and all those people chanting your name."
And that was why the passionate blue-oval driver was critical of the Red Bull Racing Australia camp following the win, labelling them arrogant because he believed they were disappointed to finish second and third.
But the 32-year-old shifted his criticism from its drivers, championship-leaders Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes, leading into this weekend's Gold Coast 600, with practice starting today.
"Their drivers aren't arrogant, it's more their team boss (Roland Dane)," Winterbottom said.
"Anyone else would do anything to get second or third at Bathurst, and it seemed as though he didn't enjoy that result."
Winterbottom thrives on his noted rivalry with Whincup, the two clashing on numerous occasions over the years.
"It's a great rivalry because we're the two front-running teams," said the man who has finished third behind the reigning Holden champion in the past two championships.
"We don't feel like we're the underdogs though, because we've got the equipment and personnel to match it with anyone."
After Winterbottom achieved his "grand final" triumph at Bathurst, he is now over his emotional comedown, following the realisation of his lifelong dream.
Now he's gunning for another maiden fairytale - a championship victory.
"Yeah, I feel like this year is my best chance. Confidence is high after Bathurst," he said. "I've thought all year about it, and it always seems to come down to that final race in Sydney.
"That's what makes this sport so great."
Winterbottom won races on the Glitter Strip in 2009 and 2011, and will team up with the experienced Steve Richards again after their Bathurst triumph.
"I like the Gold Coast track because you have to drive aggressively to be successful. And it's always an enjoyable weekend," he said.