PRODRIVE RACING – AUCKLAND SATURDAY WRAP
Mark Winterbottom (#5 The Bottle-O FG X) is still searching for his first win of 2017, but a runner-up finish in Saturday’s Race 23 from the Auckland SuperSprint proves that the Prodrive Racing (Australia) veteran still has the ability to contend for race victories. Stacked between Kiwis Shane van Gisbergen and Scott McLaughlin on the podium, Frosty scored his best finish since Phillip Island and his third podium of the 2017 Supercars season.
Jason Bright (#56 MEGA Fuels FG X) was also smiling Saturday, having converted a 12th place starting spot into a 5th place finish, his best of the season and 15th top five at Pukekohe Park Raceway in his 35th Supercars race at the 2.91-kilometre circuit.
With morning qualifying washed out by unsafe track conditions, Cameron Waters (#6 Monster Energy FG X) started from the pole position having posted the fastest practice lap on Friday, but the sophomore star lost out on chances for his second race win after being caught out by the conditions and going off-track on Lap 33. Waters climbed back to finish ninth in an otherwise quiet performance.
Chaz Mostert (#55 Supercheap Auto FG X) spent most of his day well inside the top ten, but a late incident saw the 25-year old hit with a pit lane drive-through penalty on Lap 64 of 66, dropping him from seventh to 23rd, where he would later finish. With the frustrating result, Mostert now sits 210 points arrears of Jamie Whincup in the championship standings and drops to fifth behind van Gisbergen.
#5 The Bottle-O PRA Ford
“It’s a good result. I think the car was pretty good. Just sitting behind (other cars), it was hard with aero wash. I think if we had gotten in front we would have been quite good. It’s really good to be back on the podium, you always back yourself and you knew if the car was right for you you’d be back up here. It’s a nice little reward. The guys have been working really hard, I’ve been in there, probably annoying them more than ever, so it’s just nice to get a result, know that you can still drive and know you can do the job. Good day, good battle. I was almost close enough to have a dive (on van Gisbergen), but just not close enough. We’ll tune up a little bit and see where we go tomorrow. But it’s great to spray champagne again, it’s been a long time.”
#6 Monster Energy PRA Ford
“It was a pretty tough and frustrating day. We got away a bit slow due to the wet track but I was trucking along well and caught the guys ahead of me after the first round of stops and I was effectively second or even leading. I just got on a damp patch of the track, locked the rears and that was it. If it hadn’t of been wet I would’ve been find as there wouldn’t have been any issue, but with the damp patches and the wet grass I was just a passenger. I am pretty frustrated at myself but occasionally these things happen in wet/dry conditions and today they did to me.”
#55 Supercheap Auto PRA Ford
“Today didn’t go to plan at all in the race. We were on the wet line for the start of the race and I dropped back into the pack which made the first part of the race difficult. We got ourselves back into it as the race went on but I just didn’t have the pace I needed. The incident with Dave started off a chain reaction which I obviously didn’t intend. I couldn’t get the car going as fast as I wanted after the contact and that caused the bottleneck which I was trying to stay out of, but the outcome wasn’t great for anyone involved. The result makes our title chances much slimmer but we won’t give up and will come back and try again tomorrow.”
#56 MEGA Fuels PRA Ford
“The car was great. After practice we were strong in a lot of places, but also sucked in a few others and I felt we turned the car around and fixed the areas where we were weak without any penalty elsewhere. We were unlucky to miss out on using that pace in qualifying and we clearly have a good race car. I felt strong compared to all the cars I was racing. We actually dropped a lot of track time as I got stuck behind Rick (Kelly) and then had to pass Garth (Tander) and (Tim) Slade. I am looking forward to carrying this pace into tomorrow.”
Chris O’Toole – Team Manager
“It was a great job by Frosty and his crew to get back onto the podium. They’ve had their fair share of incidents and bad luck recently despite having reasonable pace so it was a good reward, so to for Jason who avoided all of the chaos and put his love of this track to good use with his best result of the year. Cam came unstuck in the tricky conditions which he’s kicking himself for, but he again showed he has the pace to run at the front and Chaz just got unintentionally caught up and the penalty ruined any chances he had. So it was a mixed day but we have fast cars and will be out to go one better tomorrow.”
1) Jamie Whincup – Triple Eight: 2700 points
2) Scott McLaughlin – DJR Team Penske: 2682
3) Fabian Coulthard – DJR Team Penske: 2563
4) Shane van Gisbergen – Triple Eight: 2541
5) Chaz Mostert – Supercheap Auto Racing: 2490
7) Mark Winterbottom – The Bottle-O Racing Team: 2010
8) Cameron Waters – Monster Energy Racing: 1942
17) Jason Bright – MEGA Fuels Racing: 1395
1) DJR Team Penske: 5280 points
2) Triple Eight: 5241
3) Prodrive Racing Australia: 3987