7 Dec 2015

Winterbottom confirmed Supercars king

9:23 am on 7 December 2015

Australian Ford driver Mark Winterbottom can finally celebrate his first Australian V8's Supercars title after more than a decade of attempts.

Winterbottom wrapped up the title on Saturday night after finishing fifth and third respectively in the opening sprint races at the season's final event in Sydney.

The result took his lead over Holden rival Craig Lowndes to 220 points - a gap too big to overtake with only 150 points available in yesterday's final race.

Winterbottom finished fourth in the final 74-lap race, behind New Zealand Holden driver Shane van Gisbergen, before he could be officially crowned champion.

Van Gisbergen finished 4th in the championship, while fellow New Zealander Scott McLaughlin was 8th.

On Saturday Winterborrom couldn't hold back the tears as he crossed the finish line, with thoughts of his mum June who died in 2011 after a long battle with cancer.

All year, the the 34-year-old's worn a helmet adorned with her photo.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you," Winterbottom said over the team radio.

"I wish my mum was here; I wish she was here."

The man affectionately known as 'Frosty' has finished inside the top five every year since he joined Prodrive Racing Australia in 2008 but till now had never been crowned champion.

His victory also delivers PRA their first ever drivers' title and Ford's first since 2010.

"People comment on choking or whatever, but at the end of the day we put No.1 on the door next year and that was my ultimate goal," he said.

With six-time winner Jamie Whincup out of contention this year, fellow Red Bull Racing driver Lowndes was Winterbottom's only remaining challenger heading into the season finale.

But disaster struck the ever-smiling veteran, who crashed in the first qualifying session and had to start race one from last on the grid.

He ended up finishing 15th, then seventh in the second sprint. Lowndes has gone 16 seasons without winning a V8 trophy, his third and last being in 1999.

Winterbottom had to wait until after yesterday's to be officially crowned champion and have the No.1 sticker plastered on his Falcon for next season.

"It makes you respect people like Jamie more to win six. The week and the drama is crazy," said Winterbottom.

"To win one is fantastic. I'm over the moon.

"When people where those t-shirts that says 2015 champion, it can never be taken off. It's awesome to be part of V8 Supercars history."

Whincup, who won both of Friday's races, congratulated his fierce rival after what he labelled a great year.

"Plenty of critics have said he won't do it, that he's a choker, but credit where credit's due," Whincup said.