Mark Winterbottom is motivated to repay the faith of his family, friends and fans as he gears up to take on Craig Lowndes for the 2015 V8 Supercars Championship next week.
Winterbottom leads his Holden competitor by 179 points and is in a strong position to take his maiden title at the Coates Hire Sydney 500.
While Ford’s ‘Frosty’ has lamented ‘the haters’ as suspense builds for the big decider, he acknowledged the passion of his followers and how much they spur him on to win.
Also recognising family and friends, who have sacrificed for his career along the way, the Championship leader says he has felt plenty of support in these final weeks with the grand finale edging closer.
“Everyone is rooting for me – everyone who has had something to do with me – so it rewards everybody,” Winterbottom told v8supercars.com.au.
“Everybody’s put in so much for me to succeed and sometimes you feel guilty for it – but the best way to repay that, is to repay the faith that people have put into you.
“To win it would be huge.”
Having raced in the V8 Supercars Championship full-time in a Ford since 2006 – and finishing top five every year since – Frosty has felt the wrath of the Holden fans and the love of the blue bloods.
“We’ve got great supporters – our Ford supporters are amazing and a lot of the Holden supporters are too,” he said.
“There’s some harsh stuff [that people say] but it doesn’t stop your performance, it doesn’t affect you.
“If they think it’s playing games, that’s silly … but there’s more good than bad.
“We are really lucky to have people who have supported us since day one.
“We’ve probably been expected to get a championship given the team that we’ve got and the promise we’ve had. But win lose or draw, we have members who sign up every year, Facebook fans who are always on you side no matter what – so we’re really lucky.”
While Winterbottom wants to go out in winning fashion, he took positives from Phillip Island and was pleased to earn an ARMOR ALL Pole Position on the Sunday. Seventh, fourth and fourth still generated a good haul of points though the Bulls were back on form.
“The weekend was still good – to get pole position was really cool, I’ve only had two this year so really cool to do it at this time of the season,” Winterbottom said.
“The thing out of the weekend was – I feel like I raced well, we just weren’t quick enough. The other cars were too quick.”
His Pepsi Max Crew is leaving no stone unturned at the workshop, stripping back the car and checking it twice over to ensure it's in the best possible shape for Sydney.
While it is a place Winterbottom has had mixed results – a win in 2011, two podiums in 2009, a tough run last year – he knows performing well on Saturday is the key and that he is in the box seat now.
“We’re in a good position, a really good position, but it would be nice to go to Sydney and race like we normally do,” he said.
“Hopefully we have a good car – we had a very good car at Townsville [also a street race].
“Homebush hasn’t been the best one for us but we’ve won a race there before as well, so we want to just finish off the year strong … The best way to win it would be go in Saturday, have two really good results and put it to bed.”