Winterbottom challenges Whincup to race him overseas
Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
By V8 Supercars
Ford star Mark Winterbottom has challenged his childhood rival Jamie Whincup to battle him in Brazil, with the Holden hero to be awarded his sixth Championship crown this weekend at the Sydney NRMA 500.
Winterbottom was complimentary of his competitor's achievement, but believed Whincup should take on a new challenge - and said he had been encouraging the Red Bull racer to run in a Brazilian stock car, as he and Dean Canto did earlier this year.
"It'd be good to race him in something different, because we raced go karts together, we race V8s, and we could go and race something else - it'd be good to put yourself against the best in the world," Winterbottom told v8supercars.com.au.
"It'd be nice to be part of his next challenge, if he races over there ... it'd be good to get to race him in something different as well."
Winterbottom had no reservations about how Whincup would go in the category.
"He'd go good, there's no doubt.
"You work with different people, learn different things, it's just a different challenge. It's just a good experience really, to go over there. It's completely new and you've got to adapt your driving style to a new challenge. That's why I did it.
"It would've been good to have other Aussies over there ... it's good to race people in different cars, see where you're at."
There was no question over the machinery from Winterbottom either - both would be in good seats and in a position to challenge one another.
"The car he will have over there will be good... I know the car I'd be running would be a good car as well, it'd be a good test."
Racing in a different environment, with different people around would shake things up and make it an equal playing field, Winterbottom believes.
"Not taking away from what he's done here, just getting in something different," he said.
"You'll never race the same car here in the same situation on the day. You can win one day and he can win - he's won more than us - but over there it's one race, brand new track, brand new team, completely different category.
"And it'd be cool whether it's him, [Craig] Lowndes, to go up against other Aussies and see how others transition over there as well."
One transition this weekend at the Sydney NRMA 500 that has plenty of focus on is Marcos Ambrose and his DJR XBOX Falcon, as the two-time champ returns after nine years overseas in NASCAR world.
However, he has already had some track time, with ride and test days during the lead-in to the event - which is not the case in the scenario Winterbottom is putting to Whincup.
"You pretty much get an hour in the car and then you're racing, so it's really how quickly you can adapt so it's a really big challenge and for me that's why you do it," Winterbottom said.
"There's no test day, ride day - none of that stuff, jump in, practice, race."
While Whincup has not had many forays overseas, compared to some other competitors, he has more recently been outspoken about seeking out other challenges, and will head to Barbados soon after the Sydney NRMA 500 to tackle the Race of Champions and represent Australia with Mick Doohan.
"I look at Marcos, look at Will [Davison], look at all the guys who have gone overseas and it all looks like good fun," Whincup said.
I'd like to do a couple of one-off events somewhere ... I tried to line-up the Rolex 24-Hour but that didn't work out, so if I can line-up some one-off events overseas that would be great, but looking at the plans of the category and the future, no doubt there will be more international events to show what we've got down here."
After dropping out of the Championship race at Phillip Island, though disappointed, Winterbottom had nothing but respect for Whincup's record-breaking title win.
"It's an awesome achievement. I'd love to drive that car and see how good or bad that is... Six-time Champion - one-time is amazing."