MARK Winterbottom will cross the Pacific Ocean twice next month to squeeze an extra race into the gap between Adelaide and Albert Park.
The Tickford Racing pilot is headed back to South America for the Stock Car Brasil series’ annual two-driver race at Interlagos on March 10, marking the start of the championship’s 40th season.
The event falls the weekend after the Adelaide 500, and is followed by an off-weekend before the Supercars Championship heads to the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix for its maiden points-paying event.
LIVE stream every race of the 2018 Supercars Championship AD-BREAK FREE on FOX SPORTS. Get your free 2-week Foxtel Now trial and start watching in minutes. SIGN UP NOW >
MCLAUGHLIN: ‘That’s the biggest head-on hit I’ve had’
The latter proved a good omen for Winterbottom and the team he raced for: Frosty went on to win his maiden Supercars championship, while his then co-driver Marcos Gomes would also clinch his first Stock Car Brasil crown.
This time, Winterbottom will drive the No. 51 Chevrolet for Shell Racing Brazil, joining Atila Abreu who took a pair of race wins on his way to fourth in last year’s championship.
“I am excited to be joining the Shell Racing Team in the opening Stock Car Brazil Race,” he said.
“I enjoy how competitive the Stock Car series is because it reminds me a lot of the Australian Supercar Championship I compete in.
“After finishing second in my last Stock Car doubles race the aim is to climb a step driving with Attila, he is a consistent front runner and I think we have a good chance.
“Returning to the Interlagos circuit for the second time is helpful and I look forward to the extra co-driver Practice sessions.
“I know the car and I know the circuit, so I will feel familiar straight up.”
Winterbottom joins a host of other star international drivers signed up for the event.
The recently retired Felipe Massa headlines a list of eight former Formula 1 racers on the grid, with he Felipe Nasr joining full-time series racers Rubens Barrichello, Nelson Piquet Jr, Antonio Pizzonia, Ricardo Zonta, Lucas Di Grassi and Tarso Marques in the field.
Zonta will be Winterbottom’s teammate for the weekend at Interlagos, the former BAR F1 driver joined by Porsche GT sports car star Laurens Vanthoor, while fellow Bathurst 12 Hour racers Jeroen Bleekemolen and Augusto Farfus will also be co-drivers.
Frosty won’t be the only driver from this part of the world on the grid, either, with New Zealander Chris Van Der Drift set to partner Gabriel Casagrande at the event.