Whincup: We can’t mess around any more
Jamie Whincup feels he cannot afford to drop much further adrift in the championship after labelling the performance as ‘not good enough’ in Race 12 at the Perth SuperSprint.
The seven-time champion led the opening three laps of Sunday’s race having started from the front row, but was unable to maintain the speed required to challenge for a podium finish.
Whincup struggled to strike a balance in his Red Bull Holden Racing Team ZB Commodore during Sunday’s 83 lap encounter.
After leading from the start, the 35-year-old pitted under the Lap 3 Safety Car before going on to complete a three-stop strategy, which he believes wasn’t executed to its potential.
A lack of tyre life in the closing stages saw him reeled in by team-mate Shane van Gisbergen, who finished one place ahead in fifth.
“We started from the front row, got the holeshot, and just didn’t have enough pace; that was the story of the day,” Whincup told Speedcafe.com.
“We just kept dropping back and sixth is the best we could get.
“We didn’t get the combination (car balance and tyre life) right, probably didn’t get my strategy right either.”
Whincup has fallen 268 points behind championship leader and rival Scott McLaughlin (Shell V-Power Racing), who scored his fourth consecutive win in Race 12.
While it is early days in the championship, he believes further poor performances may leave too much of a deficit to overhaul.
“We’re not out of contention but we can’t mess around any more,” he added.
“If we lose too many points it’ll be too far to claw back.
“Today’s (Sunday) performance wasn’t good enough.
“We’ll do our thing like we always do, work out what went wrong, and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
While Craig Lowndes scored an impressive third from 25th on the grid in the operation’s third car, Triple Eight team manager Mark Dutton has admitted his squad underperformed with its strategy for the Red Bull backed entries.
“We didn’t do a good enough job,” said Dutton.
“Shane (van Gisbergen), yes, the double stack hurt him but Craig (Lowndes) had a double stack as well, so that proved that wasn’t the total defining factor of the day.
“We just didn’t do the best job we could collectively there. And then with Car 1 (Whincup) we just lost a little bit of time.
“We burned a lot of time in that middle stint getting stuck behind some traffic on slightly older tyres that we needed to clear quickly.
“When you’re running these strategies with different stop times, different tyre life, on a high-deg circuit, if the car can’t get past the cars you need to, strategy goes out the window, so we haemorrhaged so much time in that, I’d call it middle stint, (and) that’s what cost us.”