Mark Winterbottom admits that a strategy error cost him a prime opportunity to add to his championship lead at Barbagallo’s Perth 400.
Winterbottom finished Race 16 third behind winning team-mate Chaz Mostert and closest title rival Craig Lowndes.
The #5 FPR Falcon had appeared to be in the box seat for victory ahead of the final pitstops, with Winterbottom on the tail of the leading duo with less fuel to take on at his final stop.
Making the second stop four and five laps later than Mostert and Lowndes respectively ensured Winterbottom rejoined with a 10 second deficit, however, which could not be eroded over the final 24 laps.
Winterbottom, who had lost the initial track position to Mostert by also pitting earlier at the first round of stops, said his engineer Grant McPherson was left most disappointed with the way the result unfolded.
“He’s not that happy with his decision but it’s one of those things, it’s done and you have to move on from it,” said Winterbottom.
“We should have pitted earlier and we would have had track position. We probably would have come out in the lead with that three seconds fuel-in-hand and all that sort of stuff.
“We thought they (the tyres in the second stint) could go off, but you don’t calculate the traffic and all of those things that you can’t control.
“If it all mathematically works out it might have been close, but there’s no doubt we stayed out too long.
“You just have to cop it. It’s just one of those things.”
Winterbottom insisted, however, that he was pleased to see team-mate Mostert score his first victory with FPR.
The result came on the one-year anniversary of Mostert’s debut in the championship and follows a mixed start to the season that saw the youngster involved in several incidents.
“Its good that we are both here and its a big day for the team coming off a good weekend at New Zealand,” said Winterbottom.
“Chaz ran a bit of a different setup to what I ran. I had a better car in qualifying and his car was better on tyres.
“We have learnt something this weekend. Chaz has got his confidence up and its good to see him win.”
Mostert has now climbed to eighth in the points standings and expects to continue his front-running form in the coming races.
“I’ve got a car that should be in the top five, so if I’m not there then it is me letting the car down,” he said.
“There is no reason why I can’t run in the top five at the next couple of events if we roll out of the truck strong.”
Winterbottom leads the standings by 101 points over Lowndes ahead of next month’s sixth event of the season at Hidden Valley.