T8 to investigate Whincup anti-rollbar failure

Jamie Whincup

Triple Eight will seek to establish exactly why Jamie Whincup suffered a costly front anti-rollbar failure in the first race of the Winton SuperSprint.

Whincup had been running effectively inside the top 10 halfway through Race 13 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, after an early pit stop yielded a small gain in track position.

The #1 Red Bull Holden Racing Team Commodore had been competitive on lap times but lost pace thereafter and was shuffled back to 17th by the time the chequered flag flew.

Team manager Mark Dutton told Speedcafe.com that it was not yet clear whether the original cause was an impact, likely with a kerb, or a more inherent problem.

“We don’t fully know which was the chicken, which was the egg, so whether it’s been a component failure or whether it’s been an impact and then a component failure,” Dutton explained.

“There’s a bit out on the track so if we had that, that would definitely connect the dots.

“Either way, the front anti-rollbar had a failure and we’re not exactly sure why.

“Quite often the circuit give you those pieces back if they come across them, so hopefully that turns up.”

The issue is the latest in a string of technical problems at the normally reliable Triple Eight squad, most of which had affected Shane van Gisbergen.

Car #97 had a brake bias balance bar let go at Symmons Plains, an intermittent loss of power steering at Phillip Island, and radio problems at Barbagallo.

“That’s why we really want to get to the bottom of it because it’s two totally different (possible causes),” Dutton said when the topic of the team’s niggling issues was raised.

“If the component itself had an issue, then that could be a manufacturing workshop issue; design or just the way it was manufactured.

“The design is very, very proven so we need to make sure it wasn’t a manufacturing issue.

“Although if we find the other components and it’s been an impact, then we’ve got to make sure we know if it was a driving issue, was it the actual set-up of the front anti-rollbar, did that put it in harm’s way?

“We’ve looked over the other cars and they don’t have a single mark on them, which sort of indicates even more so that something else has gone wrong.”

The drama was a sour note in a recovery of sorts for Triple Eight after all three of its cars qualified outside the top 10.

Van Gisbergen bagged a podium from 14th on the grid and Craig Lowndes rose from 24th to 13th in the Autobarn Lowndes Racing entry, meaning all three would have improved but for Whincup’s problem.

“We made a big change for the race to try and find some speed and the car was definitely better, which is encouraging,” said Whincup.

“We were very aggressive on the strategy and we were one of the first cars in (for the compulsory pit stop) so we were in a pretty good place until the front rollbar broke.”

Dutton, who described Whincup’s pace as “amazing” until the anti-rollbar problem developed, agreed, but cautioned that qualifying performance would again be a question mark on the tight, technical Winton circuit.

“(We) Still a lot of work to do because, yes, we managed to have very good race cars, but with the set-up changes we do have to re-tune around that for qualifying,” he noted.

“There’s a big night ahead of trying to come up with the qualifying set-up for tomorrow.”

Armor All Qualifying for Race 14 of the championship is Supercars’ first track activity at 1025 local time/AEST.

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