It may be a month away from the Supercars’ season start but Holden recruit Mark Winterbottom believes he has already secured a win.
Former Ford star Winterbottom has trumpeted the signing of five-time Bathurst 1000 winner Steven Richards as his enduro round co-driver for 2019.
Former championship winner Winterbottom will reunite with Richards after they conquered Mount Panorama in 2013 during a six year stint together.
It remains Winterbottom’s sole Bathurst win but the 37-year-old is confident of another podium visit in 2019 after securing Richards for this year’s three enduro rounds – Bathurst, the Sandown 500 and Gold Coast 600.
Richards – son of seven-time Bathurst winner Jim – secured his fifth Great Race triumph alongside crowd favourite Craig Lowndes this year during a five-season stint together.
His signing is a shot in the arm for Winterbottom before he officially makes the switch to Holden outfit Irwin Racing after 13 years with Ford.
“Form guide-wise to pick up the current Bathurst champion as a co-driver, that’s as good as you can get,” Winterbottom said.
“Richo and I have been mates for years and we’ve had a lot of cracks at Bathurst together and had some really strong enduro campaigns but unfortunately only have one win to go against our names together.”
Richards was looking for a new enduro co-driver gig after three-time championship winner Lowndes retired from full-time racing in 2018.
Lowndes will return in 2019 as an enduro co-driver specialist, linking with Holden’s Red Bull star Jamie Whincup.
Lowndes and Whincup won three consecutive Bathurst 1000s together from 2006-08, before full-time drivers were prevented from teaming up in 2010.
Richards hoped to maintain his Midas touch with Winterbottom.
“I’m really looking forward to what lies ahead, Frosty (Winterbottom) and I have always kept in touch and remained good friends since we finished racing together,” he said.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for him and his ability and I’m really excited to team up again and hoping to replicate what happened for us in 2013.”
The 2019 Supercars season starts at Adelaide from February 28.