Whincup, Winterbottom disagree over late-race clash
Jamie Whincup and Mark Winterbottom have agreed to disagree on the legitimacy of the Orrcon Ford driver’s lunge for second place in the closing stages of the Dick Smith Sandown 500.
Winterbottom gradually increased the pressure on his rival during the final stint before pulling to the inside at the Turn 9 hairpin with little over two laps remaining. Contact between the pair then occurred as Whincup turned his car to the apex, knocking the three-time champion wide.
Whincup had led the race with 20 laps remaining before an off at Turn 2 allowed team-mate and eventual race winner Craig Lowndes to sneak through.
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“I’d be lying if I said Winterbottom’s pass was on at the end of the race, it was a late lunge,” said Whincup afterward.
“I congratulated him at the end of the race but I didn’t think the pass was on.
“At the end of the day it’s not a huge deal because I wasn’t quick enough to win the race.
“The car was quick in the middle stint but I think we didn’t adapt to the track conditions enough as the race evolved and we got a bit swamped at the end there.”
He added of losing the lead: “When Lowndes passed me I locked a wheel from trying too hard. Lowndes was coming on strong and he was probably going to get through in the next couple of laps anyway.
“I didn’t want to just roll over (let him pass) and I just pushed a little too hard and mowed the grass down at Turn 2.”
Winterbottom, who trimmed Whincup’s championship lead to 32 points courtesy of the move, said that Turn 9 was his only opportunity to make the pass.
“Sometimes you’re on the end of it and sometimes it’s who has to make the pass,” he responded.
“No doubt if I was in Jamie’s position he would have done the same to me, but yeah I feel fine about it.
“The car looked after its tyre’s really well today, the only place I could get a good run out of was Turn 6, so I had a crack and made the move stick.”
Both drivers praised the efforts of their co-drivers after the race. Steven Richards dragged Winterbottom’s car from 15th on the grid to run fourth by the midway point, while Paul Dumbrell climbed from 19th to hand the car to Whincup in the lead.