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Winterbottom hopeful of Holden confusion
By Laine Clark
16:15 AEST Thu Aug 2 2012

Seeing teammate Craig Lowndes in his rear-view mirror may take Holden star Jamie Whincup's eyes off the V8 Supercars prize - or so Ford rival Mark Winterbottom hopes.

The driver affectionately known as "Frosty" looms as Whincup's main championship rival, trailing by just 100 points ahead of this weekend's Ipswich round.

But Winterbottom believes the renewed threat of three-time series champion Lowndes may distract Whincup as he looks to extend his championship lead in Queensland.

Whincup may have received a taste of things to come in their last race in Townsville when he was pursued relentlessly by a revitalised Lowndes over the final 200km event before finally emerging triumphant.

Winterbottom hoped that played into the hands of himself and Ford Performance Racing (FPR) teammate Will Davison.

"He (Whincup) is in form but so is Lowndes. He is starting to shine - Lowndes is on the brink," Winterbottom told AAP.

"They are now facing the same issue that we (FPR) are finding, taking championship points off each other.

"That could take the focus off them a little bit."

FPR have been impressive in 2012 with Davison winning six races and teammate Winterbottom accruing more points than any driver in the last six races.

Yet three-time champion Whincup leads the championship with 1794 points ahead of Winterbottom (1694), Davison (1654) and Lowndes (1496).

Indeed Whincup will arrive at Queensland Raceway west of Brisbane as the man to beat after a clean sweep of the last round in Townsville.

But Winterbottom hoped a recent FPR test day had reeled in the advantage of Whincup and Lowndes' Team Vodafone.

"They have found a little bit but we have too after our test day," he said.

"We have qualifying form but they have had better race pace.

"Our focus on our test day was race pace and we think we have improved that.

"I am looking forward to showing what we think we have found."

Easier said than done on TeamVodafone's home track.

Especially after FPR's nightmare Ipswich round last year where the highest placing in three races for Winterbottom was 10th and Davison 15th.

"Last year was probably the worst round we have ever had as a team," Winterbottom said.

"It shows how things can change in 12 months in motorsport.

"We came up here last year hoping for a top five if we were lucky - now if we don't get into the top five we feel like we have had a shocker.

"It's a tough round because we are coming onto their home soil - but that doesn't guarantee a result for them.

"We think we can close the gap."

Despite the notoriously bumpy Queensland Raceway track being resurfaced since last year, Winterbottom believed it was only "cosmetic" and would still provide its challenges.

Practice will be held on Friday before a 45-lap race on Saturday and a 65-lap event on Sunday.

All 15 races in 2012 have been won by either TeamVodafone or FPR - the last time two teams dominated the start of a season like that was way back in 1993 when Glenn Seton Racing and Dick Johnson Racing won the first 12.


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