V8 Supercars championship leader Mark Winterbottom is wary about this weekend’s trip to Queensland Raceway.
The Prodrive Racing Australia ace heads to Ipswich holding a 248-point lead in the standings after his clean sweep of the Townsville 400 earlier this month.
Despite his outstanding form, Winterbottom knows the six-turn, 3.12km circuit nicknamed the “Paperclip” is a place where qualifying is key.
Winterbottom has picked up just one pole at Ipswich, back in 2009, and in his last 13 races at the venue has only started on the front row of the grid once.
Given his win in the second 200km race in Townsville was the only one of Winterbottom’s six victories this season where he didn’t start from the front row, the Ford ace knows an improved qualifying display is needed this weekend to keep his form going.
“It’s a tough one because you only get six corners and often one lap,” Winterbottom told AAP.
“I’m still trying to develop myself with this car. Each round you get better.
“You never know. One bad lap there (Queensland Raceway) and you’re 20th. It’s that tight.
“Tassie and Queensland are probably the two hardest on the calendar that you go to in qualifying because a tenth (of a second) is 10 spots.
“It’s easy to lose a tenth if you get just a slight wobble or mistake. Just got to be up the front, really. Poles are good but second’s just as good.”
Such has been the form of Winterbottom and his teammates Chaz Mostert and David Reynolds that they’ve won nine of the past 11 races.
That dominance led to some in pitlane questioning the team’s aerodynamics and whether they were legal, a query which has since been refuted by V8 Supercars.
But Winterbottom has welcomed the comments, saying it just shows what a good job the team is doing.
“It’s good that people are talking about us,” he said.
“We’ve got lots of bits in our car that we think are doing a good job.
“If people think it’s aero or whatever that’s probably a good thing for us. It’s a credit to the team that people are talking about them because they’re doing a good job.”
The Ipswich Super Sprint at Queensland Raceway begins on Friday with practice before two 20-lap races on Saturday and a single 65-lap race on Sunday.
FROSTY’S QUEENSLAND RACEWAY RECORD
Wins: 2 (Races 2 and 3, 2008)
* Winterbottom has only scored one pole position in Ipswich in 2009.
* Has only qualified on the front row there once in his last 13 races.