Winterbottom signs up but enrages Erebus

·3-min read

A rival Supercars team manager has called on the sport to revoke Mark Winterbottom's licence for his role in a high-speed crash.

On the same day Winterbottom announced a two-year extension that will make him a full-time driver at age 43, he was involved in one of the ugliest incidents of his career.

After a lap of tough-as-nails racing with Will Brown at Pukekohe Park, Winterbottom squeezed him off the track and sent him flying into the wall.

Brown was tracked at 184km/h as he left the bitumen, describing the impact as the biggest of his career.

"That was a pretty big hit. Going in at that speed I knew I was screwed," he said.

"Everyone knows what the consequences are when you put someone off like that. Look what he did. I hope he comes down and says something."

When Winterbottom - who didn't concede fault or publicly apologise - went to visit, both Brown and team chief executive Barry Ryan erupted at the veteran.

Brown said his Commodore was "r*****", while Ryan pushed Winterbottom and told him to leave, before Brown unleashed again.

Ryan told motorsport.com: "He should lose his licence. Crystal clear he did it on purpose.

"He said on the coverage that Will got him in the door at the hairpin, so he all but said it was retaliation - retaliation in the fastest and most dangerous corner on our calendar.

"One hundred and eighty km/h through a fast sweeper, someone is going to get hurt."

The crash could have major flow-on effects for Erebus, which hoped to put legend Greg Murphy and Richie Stanaway in a wildcard car for next month's Bathurst 1000.

For that, they were relying on using the team's spare chassis - which now may need to go to Brown.

"Will, luckily he's not hurt. The car is f*****. The wildcard project is f**ked. All because some driver decided to retaliate for a little bump at the hairpin," Ryan fumed.

Murphy looked crestfallen by the crash, saying: "I'm looking at it right now thinking it is deadset an issue."

Winterbottom served a pit lane penalty for the incident, finishing 22nd.

The 41-year-old has now gone six years without a race win, his last coming at the same venue in 2016.

Despite that, Team 18 owner Charlie Schwerkolt said Winterbottom "has still got it", happily signing him up for another two seasons.

"He's the real deal. The sponsors absolutely love him, the fans love him, he's got more fans than anyone at the moment," he said.

Winterbottom said he also felt success was around the corner.

"I feel like I'm driving well, I feel like the team is going in the right direction," he said.

Winterbottom first earned a full-time drive in 2004, winning Bathurst in 2013 with Steven Richards, and claiming a drivers' championship in 2015.

His new deal means Team 18 will be unchanged in 2023, with Winterbottom lining up alongside Scott Pye for the fourth straight season.