Mark Winterbottom breaks through at Bathurst 1000

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Mark Winterbottom (pictured, right) survived a thrilling duel with Jamie Whincup in the closing moments to win the Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama, claiming his first career triumph in the premiere race for Australia’s V8 Supercars.

The victory ended a long period of Bathurst frustration for Winterbottom and his Ford Performance Racing team. Prior to Saturday, Winterbottom had never hit the podium in the “Great Race” and FPR hadn’t notched a Top-3 result there since 2004.

For the fifth year in a row, the margin of victory was less than one second as Winterbottom and Whincup fought tooth-and-nail all over the mountain in a frantic ending. On the final lap, Whincup went to the outside and pulled his Triple Eight Racing Holden alongside Winterbottom’s Ford going into Turn 2 but Winterbottom was able to hang on to the point.

With Whincup’s momentum zapped, Winterbottom went on to win for himself and co-driver Steven Richards (pictured, left) by .47 of a second. The triumph came one day after Ford announced it would continue to support the FPR squad despite plans to cease manufacturing in Australia within the next few years.

“To win Bathurst is amazing but to do it with Ford, to do it after the announcement yesterday, to do it with FPR, to do it with Richo – if I could ever ask to win Bathurst in any scenario it’s exactly what happened today,” Winterbottom said according to The Sydney Morning Herald. “To see the Ford fans cheering your name. I’ve never been more pumped in my life.”

With Whincup and Paul Dumbrell left to settle for runner-up, another Holden tandem – Craig Lowndes and Warren Luff – picked up third after Lowndes engaged in his own late battle with multiple drivers for the final step on the podium.