Defending Supercars champion Mark Winterbottom believes a “berserk” 2016 campaign is the most competitive title race he’s ever experienced.
Winterbottom became the eighth different race winner from nine starts this year when he took out the Sunday race at Perth earlier this month.
The Ford star joins Holden’s Craig Lowndes, Jamie Whincup, Shane van Gisbergen, Nick Percat, James Courtney, Will Davison and Volvo’s Scott McLaughlin as race winners this year.
It’s the first time in Supercars history so many different drivers have claimed victory in the opening nine races of the season.
“Every week someone’s the flavour of the month,” Winterbottom told AAP.
“It’s crazy that at Tassie you look at Van Gisbergen on Saturday, unstoppable. Will Davison wins Sunday. Then Phillip Island, McLaughlin’s untouchable. Lowndes come through for the win and then I win.
“Every race a new contender appears. That’s crazy, it’s never been like that in our sport.
“Eight winners in nine races, that’s as competitive as it gets … from the sport’s point of view it’s going absolutely berserk.”
Winterbottom’s victory at Barbagallo was his first since last year’s Sandown 500 and gives him a huge confidence boost ahead of this weekend’s Winton SuperSprint.
Prodrive Racing Australia has an imperious record at the central Victorian track, claiming the last four pole positions across the 2014 and 2015 events.
But Winterbottom believes the newly resurfaced Winton track will mean speed, not history, will be the decisive factor this weekend.
“It’s just a lot different now because of the track surface,” he said.
“Still confident, still go to turn one and turn left and turn two, you turn right – it’s the same layout but what we used to do in the past … really it’s pretty much fastest car is going to win.
“That’s how the track’s going to play out.”
WINTON SUPERCARS FAST FACTS
* Nissan’s Rick Kelly will make his 200th Supercars start this weekend, while Scott McLaughlin (50th), Chaz Mostert (100th) and Tim Blanchard (100th) will also hit milestones over the weekend.
* Prodrive Racing Australia’s four poles in a row at Winton is the first time a team has achieved the feat since Garry Rogers Motorsport back in 1999-2000.
* Mark Winterbottom, Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen are the only drivers to have qualified in the top 10 for all nine races so far in this year’s Supercars championship.