VA Supercars roars into Winton, Victoria this week for round five of the 2016 season. Frosty and Prodrive Racing Australia reigned supreme last time the series arrived at Winton in 2015 and before my full round preview later this week I looked into the history of Winton Motor Raceway and the Winton SuperSprint.
Opening in 1961, Winton Raceway held it’s first race on the 26th November that same year. Now called the Club circuit, the original Winton was just 2.03 km in length, and featured 11 corners but it wasn’t until 1985 that the Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) began visiting Winton. Jim Richards and JPS Team BMW won the first two ATCC races held on the Club circuit in 1985 and 1986, with the 1985 race meeting marking the only time in history that the ATCC/Shell Championship Series/V8SC championships didn’t feature a Holden in the race.
Winton didn’t feature on the 1987 ATCC calendar and instead top level Australian motorsport returned with a vengeance in 1988, in a race which would see John Bowe and Dick Johnson Racing take victory in a Ford Sierra RS500. Nissan and Gibson Motorsport would dominate the following four years at Winton before Glen Seaton and the Ford EB Falcon would break the Nissan streak in both 1993 and 1994 and John Bowe would again take victory in the DJR Ford in 1995.
1996 would see top level motorsport take another break from Winton as the circuit was extended prior to the ATCC returning in 1997. The new 3.0 km National circuit opened in 1997 for a race meeting which would see Larry Perkins take his only ever ATCC pole position, and his teammate Russell Ingall take a clean sweep of all three race victories over the course of the weekend in what was Holden’s first overall event win at Winton Raceway. The following year would see overall honours return the way of John Bowe and DJR before Bargwanna (twice), Ingall, Bright, Ambrose and McConville would all take overall victories before yet again, top level Australian motorsport would take a seasons break from Winton in 2005.
The Ford/Holden seesaw of victories returned to Winton 2006 in an event which would see the grid’s current most successful driver at the circuit, Craig Lowndes take overall victory in a Triple Eight run Falcon before Whincup would follow suit one year later. Despite Triple Eight racking up five overall event wins since the series returned in ’06, numerous other teams and drivers have tasted success at Winton over the last three or four seasons, most notably James Moffat’s maiden series victory in 2013, and a win for Erebus and Lee Holdsworth in 2014. 2015 saw Prodrive Racing Australia and the Ford Falcon FGX dominate but in a season as unpredictable as we now find ourselves in, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will come out victorious on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.