Jamie Whincup insists that Red Bull still has ‘a long way to go’ in its mid-season rebuilding process despite snapping his winless streak in Race 22.
The day’s opening heat at Sydney Motorsport Park saw Whincup climb the podium for the first time in 13 races with third place, before victory in the second encounter broke a 15 race winless streak.
Whincup took the lead at the first corner of Race 22 before fending off Fabian Coulthard to take the win.
“We still weren’t the quickest car out there today,” Whincup stressed to Speedcafe.com post-race, having watched the leading Prodrive Fords drive into the distance in the opening hard tyre race.
“The battle is about having the quickest car and we’ve got to keep working hard until we are the quickest again. We’ve still got a long way to go.
“To get a win is nice for the crew as much as anything. You don’t just go from the mid-pack to the front by doing the same thing.
“There has been a lot of personal sacrifice put into it and a win keeps everyone hungry and pushing into the biggest part of the year.”
Whincup’s return to the top step of the podium has come in just the third event since the driver led a highly publicised shake-up of the team’s engineering structure.
David Cauchi, who was relegated from the race engineer position in favour of Mark Dutton, was a notable addition to the Race 22 podium, nominated by the team to collect the winning trophy.
“Emotionally he’s had a tough run over the last few months being effectively told to stand down,” said Whincup of Cauchi.
“It’s good to have him on the podium (and) keep his spirits up.
“He’s one of the biggest team players I’ve ever come across and he knows his work is critical.
“He should be enjoying this win as much as anyone.”
Whincup’s victory came despite a cracked exhaust header that the six-time championship says made fending off Coulthard a major challenge.
“I lost 20 to 30 horsepower, it was really slow down the straight and I knew if Fabs was on me he’d definitely shoot through,” he said.
“I thought I was in trouble and was just going to hang on as long as I could, but the tyre life was pretty good.
“That meant I was able to get that few car lengths onto the straight, which was enough to hold him off.”
VIDEO: Lowndes and Whincup talk about Saturday at Sydney Motorsport Park