Saturday’s V8 Supercars race on the Gold Coast was one to forget for series leader Mark Winterbottom.
The Ford star’s 399-point lead was cut by 93 points on the streets of Surfers Paradise, with Holden’s Shane Van Gisbergen a dominant winner, claiming his first win of the year after starting from pole.
The victory was the New Zealander’s second on the Gold Coast after he and co-driver Jonathon Webb won the corresponding race in 2014.
But it was Winterbottom’s pitlane collision with Holden’s Garth Tander which was the defining moment of the race.
Released incorrectly from the pits by his team, Winterbottom was unaware of Tander’s car alongside his before it was too late.
The subsequent repairs and a pitlane penalty forced the Prodrive Racing Australia star to limp home in 23rd position – easily his worst finish of the year.
Having identified the Surfers track as one of two remaining “danger rounds” due to the unforgiving nature of the street circuit, Winterbottom said it had been disappointing to create a drama entirely of their own making.
“It is a risky round but that’s a risk that we threw in that probably shouldn’t be here,” Winterbottom said.
“Anyway, tomorrow’s another day. We’ll turn up on Sunday, put some new tyres on, go and play again.
“Everyone remembers Sunday, not Saturday.”
Winterbottom’s nearest rivals made the most of his costly mistake.
Stablemate David Reynolds came home second behind Van Gisbergen while Bathurst champion Craig Lowndes wasn’t far behind in third.
It means Lowndes is now 306 points behind Winterbottom with Reynolds a further 24 points adrift.
“I’m delighted it’s always a great feeling when you’re on the podium at a place like the Gold Coast,” Lowndes said.
“To end up third is great for the championship.”
Lowndes’s teammate Jamie Whincup had an even worse day than Winterbottom, finishing 24th after co-driver Paul Dumbrell was involved in an early collision which left their Commodore damaged.
The Gold Coast 600 wraps up on Sunday with qualifying before another 300km race in the afternoon.