Winterbottom sets sights on V8 defence

Newly-crowned V8 Supercars champion Mark Winterbottom says claiming his first title has given his team the belief it needs to win another.

The Ford driver claimed his maiden championship at the Sydney 500 over the weekend and on Monday unveiled the No.1 sticker on his Falcon FGX in Sydney before declaring his intention to win a second title.

“You win it once, appreciate it, enjoy it and respect it,” Winterbottom said in Pyrmont.

“And then you come back next year and try and defend it. That’s got to be the goal.”

The western Sydney driver has already had a taste of being the hunted, having moved to the top of the series leaderboard midway through the year and then staving off his counterparts right up until the penultimate day on the calendar.

His main contender for the crown, Triple Eight Racing’s Craig Lowndes, fell out of contention on Saturday after his Holden Commodore found the wall in Sydney.

But having played the bridesmaid for a number of years, Winterbottom says Prodrive Racing Australia can now build on their breakthrough win.

“We’ve been good for six months or seven months and then fall off, or we’d start bad and then come home strong, but we’ve never been good for 12 months,” he said.

“It’s just good belief. We’ve got proof in the number one now that we can do it.”

Winterbottom also supported the idea of a race being held at Gosford on the Central Coast after reports surfaced that the season finale could be moved out of Sydney.

Asked if it would be a shame for the Sydney 500 at Olympic Park to disappear off the racing calendar, he said: “I think so. Homebush is a big race.

“But for drivers, we want the big events and you want new events too. Gosford would be really good for our sport, because Newcastle, Central Coast… that whole region is massive.

“People travel two hours from there to come to Sydney so they earn the right to have a race go to them.

“If they can have both it would be cool, but if they don’t, there’s a reason why. You’ve just got to follow the direction of the sport.”

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