The closure of Australia’s Ford factories has inspired reigning Supercars champion Mark Winterbottom to claim this weekend’s Bathurst 1000 title and provide “the farewell Falcon deserves”.
Winterbottom said he hoped to honour the hundreds of workers at Ford’s manufacturing plants that will shut down this week by holding aloft the Peter Brock Trophy on Sunday.
The Falcon brand will be retired after the Geelong and Broadmeadows factories in Victoria close on Friday.
Winterbottom’s Prodrive Racing team will continue to use Falcons next season but the 2013 Mount Panorama champion believed Sunday’s Great Race marked the end of an era.
“A lot of people have worked at the Ford plant up to 50 years, so it is emotional,” Winterbottom told AAP.
“I know a lot of them are driving up and having a convoy, celebrating their time at Ford by going to Bathurst.
“It would be nice to send the Falcon out on the high it deserves.
“It would be huge for the workers more than anything.”
Winterbottom can revive his championship title defence with a second Bathurst triumph.
He finished a disastrous 23rd with co-driver Dean Canto at the recent Sandown 500, relegating him to fifth in the driver standings.
He is 340 points behind new series leader, Holden’s Shane van Gisbergen.
However, Winterbottom believed so much more was at stake on Sunday.
“Bathurst is all about bragging rights. It’s Ford versus Holden,” he said.
“You want to sit next to your Holden mate and get him to shout you at the bar.
“There is always pressure from the Ford fans to win there but this weekend even more so with the factories closing down.
“I hope we can step up.”
Holden have won Bathurst a record 30 times compared to Ford’s 19 victories.
Practice at Mount Panorama starts on Thursday ahead of Sunday’s 56th Great Race.