Mark Winterbottom has labelled Shane van Gisbergen an “alpha male” following contact between the duo in Practice 1.
Winterbottom headed van Gisbergen in opening OTR SuperSprint practice at The Bend Motorsport Park on Saturday morning.
Well before both drivers set their quick times, van Gisbergen nudged Winterbottom at Turn 6.
The minor contact did little to upset Winterbottom, who returned to set a session-best 1:50.494s.
Championship leader van Gisbergen, who has won six of eight races in 2021, was within 0.04s of the #18 IRWIN Racing Commodore.
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Speaking on the broadcast following the session, Winterbottom poked fun at the incident, suggesting it was a posturing effort by van Gisbergen early in the piece.
“That’s just him, isn’t it, he tries to be the alpha-male and bully you around,” Winterbottom said.
“At that time in the session, I was almost running in brakes still, so if he wants to do that, good on him.
“The best way to get back at people is to get in front of them. I’m happy we popped him in the time sheet then, which is hard to do.
“Whatever, it might be a good thing. We buy parts off them so it might be a good revenue-earner for them, I don’t know.
“Sometimes for the guys, that’s the hard part; they’ve got to pop stuff out. For me, I go into the truck and chill out and whatever.
“It doesn’t affect my day, it doesn’t rattle you. It’s not his first time… maybe we give it back at some stage, I guess.”
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The session began in greasy conditions following light showers, with van Gisbergen’s Red Bull Ampol Racing teammate Jamie Whincup the early pace-setter.
Several drivers took turns at the top, including van Gisbergen, but it was Winterbottom who fired the first shot of the weekend, albeit at the death on slick tyres.
“You don’t want to burn up good wets, because you use them into the weekend, and you don’t want to burn up your slicks… there’s a Catch 22,” Winterbottom explained.
“We went out, did our procedure, ran some brakes in, come in and put slicks on.
“When you put the dark visor down, you’re hoping you see a dry line and not a mirage in the distance.
“In the end. 1:50.4, kind of our race pace time, so we’re close to get a read on the car.
“Unfortunately track temp’s down, car feels a lot different. Hopefully, if it stays like that condition, it would be fantastic. We’ll see what happens later on.”
Several drivers encountered drama in the trying conditions; notably, James Courtney spun at Turn 6 and beached his #44 Boost Mobile Racing Mustang.
“Those conditions, who need confidence. Literally, the slightest margin, you go offline, the car spins,” said Winterbottom, who is sixth in the championship standings.
“Davey Reynolds popped up and looked like a John Deere in front of me.
“It’s the millimetre mistakes. And when you do drop off, it’s half a second like that.”
The Repco Supercars Championship field will return for Practice 2 at 11:15am AEST. Check out the full weekend schedule here.
The OTR SuperSprint will be broadcast live on Foxtel and will be streamed on Kayo with highlights on 7 and 7 Plus.
This originally appeared in Supercars.com and was republished with consent.