Ford’s Winterbottom surprises with fastest practice lap in Pukekohe

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Winterbottom enjoyed the return to a revamped Pukekohe Park Raceway

While the big first day crowd were looking for Kiwi honours, it was a blast from the past that stole the limelight in practice at the ITM 400 Auckland at Pukekohe Park Raceway today.

Amid the hype of the new marques and the new cars, Ford's Mark Winterbottom proved fastest in practice after pushing ahead of the Red Bull racing pair of Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes and the New Zealand pair of Fabian Coulthard and early pacesetter Shane van Gisbergen.

Ford has had a meagre run across the Tasman, winning only once back in 2004 when Marcos Ambrose triumphed at Pukekohe.

But Winterbottom reminded fans that both he and Ford intend to be real factors in the V8 Supercars Championship, and he enjoyed the return to a revamped Pukekohe Park Raceway.

"2007 was obviously the last time we were here but as soon as you do that first lap you remember the bumps that are there at the last corner and the bumps that are there at turn one, but it's always a good fun place," Winterbottom said.

While the big first day crowd were looking for Kiwi honours, it was a blast from the past that stole the limelight in practice at the ITM 400 Auckland at Pukekohe Park Raceway today.

Amid the hype of the new marques and the new cars, Ford's Mark Winterbottom proved fastest in practice after pushing ahead of the Red Bull racing pair of Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes and the New Zealand pair of Fabian Coulthard and early pacesetter Shane van Gisbergen.

Ford has had a meagre run across the Tasman, winning only once back in 2004 when Marcos Ambrose triumphed at Pukekohe.

But Winterbottom reminded fans that both he and Ford intend to be real factors in the V8 Supercars Championship, and he enjoyed the return to a revamped Pukekohe Park Raceway.

"2007 was obviously the last time we were here but as soon as you do that first lap you remember the bumps that are there at the last corner and the bumps that are there at turn one, but it's always a good fun place," Winterbottom said.

"I've always enjoyed it here, I enjoy this place more than Hamilton, just the way the circuit is, so I'm happy we're back. It looks on paper easier than what it is when you're out there, it's a really tough track.

"It's different and that's the good thing about our series we go all around the country and international as well, and every place is different, unique and that's why we enjoy our sport."

Champion Whincup settled for second fastest in the Red Bull Racing Holden and was also pleased to be back at Pukekohe.

"This track has massive character. Most of the circuit is the exact same as what it was while safety has massively improved which is what we needed," Whincup said.

"The turn 5-6 is brand new so it's got quite a lot of grip compared to the rest of the track. It's all good fun - I think it is going to be a good weekend.

"At the end of the day we are back here now which is great. I can't believe it has been 5 years, but look forward to a good weekend."

Aucklander Coulthard, the winner last week in Tasmania, was third fastest after he and his Brad Jones Racing team had an emotional occasion with the unveiling of the Jason Richards memorial Trophy.

Coulthard said winning the trophy for Richards' old team would be a huge goal for the weekend.

"I'm sure if you ask any one of us, to win that Jason Richards trophy is the goal, but obviously we are fiercely competitive as always, so we just have to maximise the tyres and look after it during the races and hopefully we are there or thereabouts.

"It would be nice if we could take it there, but if it wasn't me if Brighty could bring it back to Albury that would be pretty awesome."

Tomorrow's racing includes qualifying and two 100km races, which will be replicated on Sunday.

V8 Supercars

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About this article
Series V8SUPERCARS
Article type Practice reports
Tags auckland, coulthard, ford, lowndes, new zealand, pukekohe, v8sc, v8supercars, van gisbergen, whincup, winterbottom