Winterbottom scores new long-term deal

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 16/10/2020
  • By Connor O'Brien

Team 18 has revealed a new two-year deal for Mark Winterbottom, ensuring the champion driver will be onboard until at least the end of season 2022.

Winterbottom joined a revamped Team 18 outfit last year after more than a decade at Tickford Racing, taking an ARMOR ALL Pole in just his third event with the team.

A podium has continued to evade him but Winterbottom has delivered consistent results, already with 13 top 10 finishes this season.

The 2015 series winner will be 41 years of age by the time his extended contract expires.

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

“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.”

With Scott Pye also under contract for next year, Team 18 will field an unchanged line-up in 2021.

Both drivers are perched inside the championship’s top 10 heading into the final race of the season, the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 this Sunday.

“Charlie has shown his commitment to the sport by increasing to two cars this year, and you can see how much that has helped,” added Winterbottom, who is sharing his #18 Holden with James Golding at Bathurst.

“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 [in 2022].

“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.”

Schwerkolt was thrilled to announce Winterbottom’s lengthened tenure.

“Since we lured him away from the factory Ford squad at the end of 2018 he has become an integral part of building the team and brand of Team 18,” said Schwerkolt.

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

“It was a no-brainer to put pen to paper on this signing.

“Frosty’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 Frosty with the same vision as me is so important.”

Winterbottom’s announcement follows Walkinshaw Andretti United handing rookie Bryce Fullwood a contract extension yesterday.

A total of 12 drivers have deals formally in place for next season thus far; also including Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen (Triple Eight), Cameron Waters and Lee Holdsworth (Tickford), David Reynolds and Will Brown (Erebus), Chaz Mostert and Fullwood (WAU), Nick Percat (BJR), and Andre Heimgartner (Kelly Racing).

That list does not include champion-elect Scott McLaughlin, who has publicly spoken of having a 2021 contract with Shell V-Power Racing but is widely expected to join the IndyCar Series in the US next year.

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