History VA Supercars Championship

Frosty And Ford, A Look Back In Time

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Mark Winterbottom carrying the #1 in 2016. Image thanks to Supercars.

There can be no doubt that when we look back, Mark Winterbottom and Ford are two names that are synonymous with each other in the modern Supercars era. Frosty leaves Tickford Racing at the end of 2018 having raced a Ford Falcon for 16 straight seasons, 13 of those with the same team. It would be all too easy to remember the Mark Winterbottom we’ve seen in 2018, but at the time of writing he is FPR/Prodrive/Tickford’s only driver’s champion and he also has a Bathurst title to his name.

As the sun sets on Frosty’s time at Tickford, and what looks to be the end of his Ford career, I’ve taken a look back at his 13 seasons with the team including the highs, the lows and that memorable 2015 title.

2006 – Ford Performance Racing Debut

Wins: 2

Podiums (Including Wins): 14

Championship Position: 3rd

After two full seasons at Larkham Motorsport, Winterbottom switched to Ford’s Factory V8 Supercars outfit for the 2006 season. Ford Performance Racing were only three years old at the time, having been born out of the Glenn Seton Racing Team in December 2002. But Frosty’s arrival at FPR would mark the beginnings of a partnership which would make him Ford’s most successful driver of the modern V8 Supercars era.

His debut year at FPR was a great success, and he took his maiden V8SC victory at the Betta Electrical (Sandown) 500 co-driving with Jason Bright. A further win would follow in the final race of the season at Philip Island to add to 12 other podium finishes throughout the season. Frosty would score his first ever V8SC podium in race four of the 2006 season at Pukekohe in New Zealand. He finished the year third in the standings, behind Todd Kelly and Craig Lowndes.

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Mark Winterbottom at Oran Park in 2006. Image thanks to Mark Horsburgh / LAT Photographic

2007 – A Character-Building Start To The Season

Wins: 2

Podiums (Including Wins): 7

Championship Position: 5th

After the success of his debut season at FPR, 2007 proved to be more difficult. Despite a podium at Pukekohe in race six, the early part of Winterbottom’s season was testing with retirements and finishes outside of the points. It wasn’t until race 22 at Oran Park that his season really got going, and he won both races in Bahrain’s Desert 400. 2007 will perhaps be most remembered for Frosty leaving the circuit late on whilst leading the Bathurst 1000, he ended the season 5th in the table.

2008 – Championship Challenge

Wins: 5

Podiums (Including Wins): 19

Championship Position: 2nd

2008 marked Frosty’s best year at FPR before his title win in 2015 as he finished 2nd in the championship behind Jamie Whincup. His five race wins came at Eastern Creek, Barbagallo, Hidden Valley and Queensland Raceway and he just missed out on a Bathurst podium. 2008 was FPR’s final year with the BF Falcon, and unlike 2007, Winterbottom started the year strongly with three podium finishes inside the first five races. He dominated the BigPond 400 in Perth and finished on the podium in all three races at Surfers Paradise.

2009 – Tougher Competition

Wins: 3

Podiums (Including Wins): 12

Championship Position: 5th

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Winterbottom drove the Orcon Steel Falcon to 5th in the 2009 Championship. Image thanks to Ford Performance.

In Ford’s first year with the FG Falcon Winterbottom finished as FPR’s top driver in 5th, scoring three race wins along the way at Philip Island and Surfers Paradise. Despite dominating teammate Stevie Richard’s in the championship standings, Frosty failed to drag himself into title contention as the championship went to Whincup once again. A disappointing DNF at Bathurst didn’t do much to help but it was a tough opening half of the campaign which really hurt him and the team.

2010 – Back In The Hunt

Wins: 3

Podiums (Including Wins): 14

Championship Position: 3rd

It was businesses as usual in 2010 as Frosty began a run of three straight years finishing 3rd in the championship. A strong start to the season with podiums in the first four races in Dubai and Bahrain set the tone for the rest of the year and the FPR Falcon was among the strongest cars in the field. Race wins at Hidden Valley, Townsville and Symmons Plains helped Winterbottom to arrive at the final round of the season in Sydney with an outside shot at the title, but a DNF in a chaotic race one of the season finale ended his chances.

2011 – Best Of The Rest

Wins: 2

Podiums (Including Wins): 9

Championship Position: 3rd

2011 went much the same way as 2010, with Frosty finishing 3rd in the standings. The Triple Eight duo of Whincup and Lowndes were the class of the field finishing 1st and 2nd in the championship, leaving the rest of the competition to fight for 3rd place. Despite a number of podiums during the course of the season, it wasn’t until race 22 at Surfers Paradise that Winterbottom took his first win of 2011 alongside co-driver Richard Lyons. He would take his second win of the season at the final race of the year in Sydney.

2012 – Hat-trick of Thirds

Wins: 3

Podiums (Including Wins): 18

Championship Position: 3rd

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Frosty on his way to a 3rd place finish at Hidden Valley in 2012. Image thanks to Mark Horsburgh & Edge Photographics.

2012 would be the third year in a row that Frosty finished 3rd in the standings, but the course of the year followed a different pattern than usual. For the first time since 2008, Winterbottom was stronger in the opening half of the year and a good start to the season catapulted him into championship contention. Podiums at Adelaide and Symmons Plains were soon followed by wins at Hamilton, Barbagallo and Philip Island as Winterbottom was once again the closest challenger to Whincup and Lowndes. A run of eight podium finishes in ten races still wasn’t enough to take Frosty to the title, and he ended the season in 3rd after falling behind eventual 2nd place finisher Craig Lowndes in after the final round of the season.

2013 – Bathurst Success

Wins: 3

Podiums (Including Wins): 13

Championship Position: 4th

Despite finishing the year one place lower in 4th, 2013 was a year of celebration for Winterbottom and FPR as Frosty and Richards claimed victory in an intense Bathurst 1000. Bathurst aside, a rough start to Frosty’s season meant that he didn’t take his first race win until race 18 at Hidden Valley and he finished the year behind teammate Will Davison in the standings.

2014 – Final Year Of The FG Falcon

Wins: 4

Podiums (Including Wins): 12

Championship Position: 3rd

Frosty returned to his now accustomed position of third in the standings in 2014, however it was a poor second half the year which saw him surrender a 161 point lead to finish 3rd once again. Winterbottom’s season really kicked off at Winton, where results in his next nine races at Winton, Pukekohe and Barbagallo read 2nd, 1st, 13th, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 4th, 2nd, 3rd. The second part of 2014 proved to be more challenging, however, as Frosty failed to win another race in the whole second half of the season where FPR had traditionally been strong. Two late-season podiums came at Philip Island. However title winner Whincup was already out of reach by the time the final race of the season came.

2015 – Long Overdue Success

Wins: 9

Podiums (Including Wins): 14

Championship Position: 1st

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Winterbottom and the new PRA Falcon FGX were supreme in the early part of 2015. Image thanks to Speedcafe.

2015 was the year Frosty will be remembered for, and after over a decade with FPR, the team now known as Prodrive Racing Australia won the drivers title in the first season of the new Falcon FGX. The Falcon FGX’s championship-winning potential was on display early on as Winterbottom took four from four at the Australian GP Support races at Albert Park. He would go on to win nine races in 2015, the majority coming during a supreme run of form between Barbagallo and Townsville. He also won at Sandown and finished second at Bathurst before a tense run into the end of the year. Despite the title battle with Craig Lowndes going to the final race, Frosty prevailed and took the championship victory he had been waiting so long for.

2016 – Poor Second Half Of The Season Costs Frosty

Wins: 2

Podiums (Including Wins): 8

Championship Position: 6th

Winterbottom’s defence of his title was tough and despite leading the standings after Winton he would go on to record his lowest championship finish since 2005. Winterbottom started slowly before reaching the podium in race five at Symmons Plains. A strong run of form from Philip Island to Winton sent him to the top of the standings but a poor Hidden Valley and a disappointing run of results from Queensland Raceway onwards spelt curtains for Frosty’s title hopes. His one podium finish from races 16 – 29 came at Pukekohe where he won again, but unlike in 2015 where he just held on, the poor late season cost him this time around.

2017 – First Winless Season Since 2005

Wins: 0

Podiums (Including Wins): 3

Championship Position: 6th

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Now in Bottle ‘O colours since 2016, Winterbottom struggled in 2017. Image thanks to news.com.au

2017 was a disappointing year for Frosty as he failed to win a race for the first time since 2005. Three podium finishes at Philip Island, Townsville and Pukekohe marked Winterbottom’s only silverware of a season to forget as Prodrive were unable to challenge the championship contenders Triple Eight and DJR Team Penske. 2017 marked the first time in a long time that Prodrive was no longer the top Ford team, and Frosty’s results showed, as him and the Falcon were off the pace all year on their way to another 6th place finish.

2018 – The Wait For A Victory Continues

*Championship Ongoing*

Wins: 0

Podiums (Including Wins): 1

Championship Position: 13th

2018 has been Frosty’s worst year since he joined the team now known as Tickford in 2006. Sitting 13th in the table heading into the final races of his Ford career at Newcastle, 2018 has been one to forget for Winterbottom as he looks set to make the switch to the Holden Commodore of Preston Hire Racing in 2019. One podium finish at Barbagallo early on in the year is, and looks to be his only sliverware of the season as he looks set to finish outside the championship’s top ten for the first time since 2005.

Nevertheless, despite a tough last two seasons at Tickford, Frosty should, and will remain a legend with the team. His performances at the top level of V8 Supercars/Supercars since 2006 mean he leaves the team as one of the most successful drivers of the last two decades, and with a title and Bathurst win to his name. If he does complete his move to Preston Hire Racing it will be strange to see him driving something other than a Ford for the first time in his Supercars career, but his achievements in a Ford shouldn’t be forgotten any time soon.

 

 

 

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