V8 Supercars championship leader Mark Winterbottom has declared himself satisfied with second place in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 because he fought to the end for victory, rather than conserving and going for points.
Winterbottom qualified the Prodrive Racing Australia-fettled Pepsi-Max Ford Falcon FG X only 14th and co-driver Steve Owen dropped back as far as 20th early in the race, before the car struck electrical issues and the dash readout failed.
The car was fixed at a pit stop but the team then had to serve a 15 second penalty at a pit stop for not responding to a mechanical black flag immediately.
But some adroit strategy including Winterbottom's brave call to be the first back on slicks after a rain shower doused the track got the Ford back into contention and eventually second - although he was unable to bridge the gap to eventual winner Craig Lowndes in the Red Bull Holden Commodore VF.
Winterbottom now leads Lowndes by 399 points in the championship chase, with fellow-PRA driver David Reynolds third, 432 points adrift. Both passed Winterbottom's team-mate Chaz Mostert on the points table, the young star breaking his left leg and wrist in a violent accident on Friday and spent the weekend in Orange hospital.
"I wasn't thinking about the championship," declared Winterbottom. "If I was, I wouldn't have come in and put slicks on because it was sketchy.
"I just wanted to get back up and have a crack at the win. When you come away, it could have been a massive turn around. I had power out in the dash and everything, so that could have been game over at that point.
"If I didn't win it could have been a 300 point turnaround and it could have been disastrous. But finishing second is only a 24 point difference so I've got to be happy about that.
Winterbottom pointed to his willingness to be on the pioneer on slicks as proof of his desire to add to his 2013 Bathurst win.
"I always said coming in here I wasn't just going to protect the championship I want to win it. It was slightly dry so I said to the boys 'yeah just put them on'.
"They can't see the top of the track and I thought it was time. That gave me a massive gain. That was 15 seconds that turned around the penalty quite quickly.
"So yeah, have a crack, that is what Bathurst is about. A few sketchy moments, it was a bit slippery down the hill. But then all the sheep followed, they all put their (dry) tyres on."
Winterbottom admitted he'd almost given up on getting back into contention after the early set-backs. But his recovery was completed when he was the primary beneficiary of Fabian Coulthard's attempted aggressive pass on Reynolds for second after the final restart.
"Last year guys started last and got to the front in 80 laps, so I knew Steve was really quick and I just knew if we had a lucky run we would get back up there.
And with 20 kays to go we were fifth and they had the big moment at one and we come out second. I tried to catch Craig but I was tapped and that was the result."
Winterbottom revealed PRA had made time to involve defending winner Mostert in its race day.
"His engineer facetimed him this morning, so we had this sort of little huddle in catering this morning and he went around and said hello to everyone.
"He isn't good, he is in pain. And when you break a bone and what he did, it was a massive shunt. When you are lying in a hospital bed bored watching Bathurst it is a pretty cool outcome."