Bathurst champion Mark ''Frosty'' Winterbottom roared into V8 Supercars title contention by ending Ford's long winless streak in the Winton 400 on Sunday.
Winterbottom dominated the 67-lap, 200-kilometre third and final race at the tight Winton Motor Raceway, near Benalla, after pit lane speeding penalties ruined his main rivals' chances.
His Ford Performance Racing Falcon finished 9.49 seconds ahead of the Holden Racing Team Commodore of James Courtney to score the Blue Oval's first win since last October.
Tim Slade was third in his Walkinshaw Racing Commodore, ahead of the Brad Jones Racing Holden of Jason Bright and the FPR-run Falcons of David Reynolds and Chaz Mostert.
Winterbottom's first victory of the season - and his first since his breakthrough success in last year's Bathurst 1000 - lifted him from fourth to second in the championship points standings after three events and nine races.
He has closed to within 28 points of veteran Craig Lowndes, who managed to retain his title lead despite never contending in any of the three races at Winton on the weekend.
But Lowndes fared better than his Triple Eight Holden teammate Jamie Whincup, who struggled throughout and could manage only 10th place in Sunday's longer race. The reigning V8 champion's unusually poor form in all three races at the three-kilometre Winton track left him languishing in fifth place in the title standings, trailing Lowndes by 95 points.
New Zealander Fabian Coulthard was on course to take over the championship lead as he pursued Winterbottom after the final round of pit stops. But with just 17 laps to go, Coulthard was forced to end his challenge when he was hit with a drive-through penalty for exceeding the pit lane speed limit of 40km/h as he came in for his final stop for fuel and tyres. The punishment relegated him to 11th place at the finish and dropped him to third in the championship, increasing his deficit to Lowndes to 43 points.
Coulthard was one of five drivers who suffered drive-through penalties for breaking the pit lane speed limit. The other major casualty of the purge on pit lane speeders was fellow Kiwi Scott McLaughlin, who started from pole position in his Volvo S60. McLaughlin led until the penalty was imposed on lap 20 and looked like battling with Winterbottom for victory, which would have been Volvo's first in an Australian touring car championship race since 1986.
Winterbottom was the third different winner in as many races during the Winton 400, with Coulthard taking the opening sprint on Saturday before Lee Holdsworth's historic first victory for Mercedes-Benz in the second race.
■ V8 veteran Russell Ingall is facing disciplinary action after criticising race officials on TV following a pit lane drive-through penalty late in the first race of the Winton 400 on Saturday.
He was penalised for muscling another car off the track as he charged through the field on his way to third place from the rear of the grid.
Referring to the officials as ''idiots up in their ivory tower'', Ingall also said: ''I'd like to take them over there to the spectators. They'd kick the shit out of them.''
Confederation of Australian Motor Sport stewards are investigating Ingall's outburst, for which he could be charged for making comments prejudicial to the sport by criticising race officials.
If the charges are upheld, Ingall could face a heavy fine.
The story Mark 'Frosty' Winterbottom breaks the ice for Ford at Winton first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.