Mark Winterbottom might be in the driver’s seat to take out this year’s V8 Supercars Championship, but Ford teammate Chaz Mostert isn’t about to take his foot off the pedal and let him win.
Mostert is third in the overall standings and 292 points behind Winterbottom heading into this weekend’s event at Sydney Motorsport Park, with Holden rival Craig Lowndes sandwiched between them.
The reigning Bathurst winner has enjoyed three race victories, seven other podium finishes and eight pole positions so far this season in Prodrive Racing Australia’s pacy new FG X Falcon.
He topped the timesheets in practice on Friday ahead of Winterbottom, who was 0.4655secs off the lead pace in fifth.
And, according to Mostert, there’s nothing to stop him from continuing his charge.
“As far as I know, we’re all pushing for the championship still,” the 23-year-old said.
“We’ve all got our own races to run.
“That’s the good thing about Prodrive – they’ve always left it open. They left it open last year when Frosty was leading the championship.
“I think it’s a different situation this year … I think we’ve got a better package going into the endurance series.
“I haven’t been told of any team orders but, for me, I’m just going out there to win as many races as I can and try and get as many points in the championship as I can.”
Despite his pace, Mostert was “pretty unhappy” with his car.
“There’s a bit of work to do, but I guess it’s nice to be at the pointy end of the timesheets,” he added.
“We’ve got one more practice tomorrow, which we can try and do some last-minute set-up changes to see if we can make it better.”
Lowndes didn’t have a great start to the round, finishing 19th fastest.
The three-time champion, chasing his first V8s crown since 1999, admitted it was a tough day.
“I just don’t think we got on top of it fully today,” he said.
“We do have direction though and we do understand what we did. I’m looking forward to tomorrow to put it all together.”
Red Bull Racing teammate and six-time champion Jamie Whincup fared a little better, crossing in 13th.
He finished the second session in 13th, but could’ve gone better if he hadn’t been excluded for a curb violation.
He said the car felt pretty good ahead of the three-race weekend and expected rain.
“We tried not to worry too much about what the conditions will be like come tomorrow and just get a good balance on the car,” said Whincup, who hasn’t had a win the past 14 races.
“We did that and the car was quick.”
Holden’s James Courtney missed the final session after being hit in the chest by a piece of debris blown over by a low-flying Navy helicopter.
He was taken to Westmead hospital for assessment.