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Winterbottom confident of Darwin form repeat

06 Jul
Can Team 18 pull off another shock in Townsville?
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Mark Winterbottom says Team 18 heads to the NTI Townsville 500 as confident as ever in the wake of the team’s stunning Darwin victory.

Winterbottom outlasted Broc Feeney to win the Darwin opener, his first victory since 2016 and Team 18’s first ever win.

The 250km slogs around Townsville’s streets are a far cry from Darwin, but Winterbottom believes Team 18 has what it takes to remain at the front.

“I hope what we learned at Darwin carries on,” Winterbottom said.

"I think it should, but you hope that we’re not just good at Darwin and then you've got to reinvent the wheel again, but we go to Townsville as confident as ever.

“I think the car with the strengths and weaknesses that I had, should suit Townsville quite well, but it's another test for us with these cars.”

Last lap: Winterbottom beats Feeney by 0.4s

Winterbottom is one of seven active drivers to have won in Townsville, but last won at Reid Park in 2015 — his championship season.

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The Darwin victory was centred on Winterbottom making no mistakes and holding on after starting towards the front.

Starting at the front is crucial in Townsville, where 26 of the 36 races have been won from the first two rows.

Winterbottom knows well the inconsistent nature of qualifying in the Gen3 era — a day after winning from third in Darwin, he qualified 23rd.

The 2015 champion is one of three drivers, along with Shane van Gisbergen and James Courtney, to have started all 36 Townsville races.

“The goal is to just be fast, competitive, make minimal mistakes, and if it's our day, it's our day,” he continued.

"That's how I sort of approach the rounds now, and if we're good enough on our day, we can win, we've proven that.

"We just got to make sure we don't make mistakes and our days happen more often."

Cars will hit the track at the NTI Townsville 500 at 10:10am AEST.

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