Shane van Gisbergen says black flagging Garth Tander for loose bodywork in the closing stages of the Wilson Security Sandown 500 would have made for a ‘hollow victory’.
The Red Bull ace finished just 0.3s behind Tander in second after rapidly closing down his wounded Holden Racing Team rival in the dying laps.
Tander was struggling with his car balance after a bolt popped out of his front left-front mudguard with 20 laps to go.
Although the fibreglass guard was protruding from the car, officials elected against issuing a mechanical black flag.
“It lasted (until the end without flying off) so it was the right call,” said Van Gisbergen, who took the lead of the Supercars Championship with the result.
“If they did black flag it it would have been a hollow victory.
‘They were the fastest car today those guys and they deserved to win.
“That (the guard) happening made it a little more exciting which was cool, but otherwise they had a big lead over us.”
Tander recounted his surprise at the initial sound of the guard peeling back and the resulting change to his car’s handling.
“I didn’t know what had happened initially,” he said.
“I was looking at the dash, checking my fuel number when I heard this ‘whack’ and the mirror was gone.
“I didn’t know if I’d run over something or what had happened. Then at the end of the back straight the car balance was horrible.
“We had been doing it comfortably to that point but it became very, very difficult to drive.
“They (the team) kept telling me the gap, but when it got to three seconds I said ‘I can see him, just leave me alone’.
“‘If it was a couple more laps it would have been an interesting race.”
The issue proved a major scare for the HRT crew watching on in the garage, including co-driver Warren Luff.
“It was pretty interesting,” said Luff.
“But it was good to see that the officials didn’t make a knee-jerk reaction, they waited to see what it was doing.
“It was obvious that it wasn’t going to come off or create a problem for anyone else.
“There were some heart-in-mouth moments there for a little while, but we’re very happy.”