New two-year deal for Winterbottom

Mark Winterbottom will continue to race for Team 18 until at least the end of the 2022 Supercars season.

New two-year deal for Winterbottom

The 2015 series champion has driven for the Holden squad for the past two seasons, following his well-publicised defection from Ford.

This fresh two-year deal means his career as a full-timer will continue until at least 2022, the first year of the Gen3 rules set.

That could open the door for the 39-year-old to add a third manufacturer to his CV, too, should Team 18 opt to race a Camaro, or if a third make joins the series.

There's also potential for a return to the Ford fold if Team 18 decides to field Gen3-spec Mustangs.

He'll continue in a Commodore for next season, though, as he looks to build on three top fives and 13 Top 10s with a round to go in 2020. 

“It’s great to confirm that I have re-signed with [team owner] Charlie [Schwerkolt] and Team 18 for the next two years,” said Winterbottom.

“There was never a doubt that I was going to stay. It’s a really close knit team, and the bonds we have created during these COVID times, being on the road together, has brought everyone really close. 

"You can sense that we are on the edge of creating something very special.

“Charlie and I definitely share the same vision for the direction of where we need to go. He has developed a really strong culture in the team and he is always open to new ideas from myself and all of our staff.

“The improvements that we have made in a short space of time is very encouraging. Charlie has shown his commitment to the sport by increasing to two cars this year, and you can see how much that has helped. 

"Both our cars are in the Top 10 in the championship, and we go into the Bathurst 1000 this weekend as a genuine chance to pull off a big result.

“It’s great that I’m secure in the team as we head into the new Gen3 regulations too. That will become a huge focus for us and I’m keen to ensure that Team 18 launches into that era at the front of the field. 

"Anytime Supercars bring in new regulations, we see a big mix up in results. That is a great challenge, so I can’t wait to see what the cars are like and take advantage of it.”

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Schwerkolt added that it was a clear-cut decision to retain Winterbottom beyond this season.

“He’s amazing with sponsors, everyone at Irwin Tools, Bunnings and all of our partners absolutely love dealing with him and and he’s an incredible ambassador for their brands," said Schwerkolt.

“It was a no-brainer to put pen to paper on this signing. He’s the real deal and he shares my vision for the team as we continue to build the relationship with the sponsors and the performance side of the team.

“[Winterbottom's] knowledge of the sport and the respect he has in pitlane has certainly helped to build the best team around us, getting [engineer] Phil Keed and some of the other recruitments we’ve made have really been attributed to his knowledge and assistance.

“With Gen3 coming on in 2022, his input will be invaluable and having continuity within the team and our drivers will be critical in the changing phase of the sport.

“It’s a long journey to become a genuine contender in this championship, you need the best people around you and having [Winterbottom] with the same vision as me is so important.”

The news means Team 18 will field an unchanged line-up next season, Scott Pye already signed on to race the #20 entry.

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