He’s got just one round remaining with the number one on his windscreen, but Mark Winterbottom has no ‘what ifs’ about the 2016 season and his title defence.
In fact, Frosty says he is hungrier than ever to tackle next year after resetting to zero for 2017.
The Bottle-O racer officially fell out of contention for this year’s title during the enduros – after Sandown, being realistic, he said he may as well peel the #1 off, given the 346-point gap to leader Shane van Gisbergen and the strong speed shown by the Triple Eight cars. He then didn’t finish Bathurst after an unusual brake rotor explosion.
Last year was Frosty’s first championship win, and he has finished in the top five every year he has been with now-named Prodrive Racing (Australia).
This time he sits in sixth, 705 points away from van Gisbergen but just 19 points away from fifth-placed former teammate Will Davison.
There’s nothing to dwell on for Winterbottom, who knows some of the difficulties have been way out of his control.
He was pleased to take his second win of the season at New Zealand last weekend after a good jump off the start that helped build his nine-second lead.
“We threw 500-plus points away in two rounds with a couple of rounds ago,” he said.
“You’d be third in the points (without those issues). But everyone’s got their story.
“If we rattle through it – Shane’s gone off at Tassie, we’ve all had issues – so you can’t ‘what if’ or whatever.
“We haven’t been quick enough, that’s the thing. It’s nice to get a win through different scenarios and stuff like that.
"You just want to win races and be quick – if you finish third, fourth, fifth in the points but you’re winning races and everywhere you go you’re competitive, that’s what you sign up for.
“It’s been a good thing having #1 on the door, but it just makes you hungrier now to work harder and get it back and just make sure we have a quick car and go into next year strong.”
While he has ideas for improvements, Winterbottom knows it is a work in progress.
“We’ve got areas we need to address and they’re doing that, but you don’t sit here and target areas of your workshop, because we all work extremely hard and it upsets people if you just say, ‘it’s this or that’.
“Last year we did an incredible job throughout the whole year, and this year we know we’re weak in some areas and the team’s just trying to fix it.
“We need to start next year strong and have all the areas covered – we know where they are but it costs money and takes time.”