Shane van Gisbergen believes Jamie Whincup has ‘a bit of an edge’ at Townsville’s Reid Park circuit and will need to work harder to beat his team-mate who dominated Race 17.
The 2016 champion followed his opposite number for much of the 70 lap contest on Saturday as Whincup ended a win drought that stretched back to Race 7 at Symmons Plains in April.
Saturday’s triumph was Whincup’s 10th victory in 20 races on the Townsville streets which is celebrating 10 years of hosting Supercars this weekend.
It also saw the Red Bull Holden Racing Team end its winless run and claim its first one-two with the new ZB Commodore.
Van Gisbergen admitted there are difference in the set-ups between his and the #1 Red Bull Holden Racing Team Commodore but feels there is a bit of a Whincup factor as to why his team-mate is faster.
“I guess some tracks suits driving styles and the way you set up the car,” said van Gisbergen.
“With his setup maybe doesn’t suit me. Our set-ups are obviously close, but a little bit different.
“Jamie’s obviously the class of the field by a little bit, so we need to go that way on set-up but also I need to adapt as well,
“Whether we do that for qualifying or the race, who knows?
“It’s probably too big of a risk to do it for qualifying, my qualifying car was good enough for pole, so maybe we develop that and try something for the race, I don’t know.
“We need to make a step up, I feel like over the years there’s a few tracks he’s better than me and maybe I’m better than him. That’s the way the styles work.
“But he’s got a bit of an edge, I just need to work harder, all of the tools are there to be as good as he is.”
Van Gisbergen does however believes that his team has taken a massive step forward with its cars in qualifying trim.
Team owner Roland Dane demanded an improvement in that area after Darwin which he felt was crucial to enable his team to return to the top step of the podium.
“Our cars have taken a massive step forward, particularly for qualifying,” van Gisbergen added.
“Thanks for the guys and girls, qualifying’s been a massive talking point and focus for us over the last few weeks and the signs are good.
“We were all in the top five (on Saturday), and pretty happy with our cars.”
“I think we’re certainly getting better, this car’s better than last year’s car, no doubt but we just haven’t showed that.”
While championship leader Scott McLaughlin continued to have the edge in qualifying by claiming his eighth pole, he feels his Shell V-Power Racing package couldn’t compete with Whincup and van Gisbergen.
“I think pre-event we knew these boys would be very fast here,” said McLaughlin.
“They were fast at the last street track we were on, Adelaide, and a few other things. Obviously they’ve been working very hard.
“Practice, they were quick, but we were there or thereabouts too.
“Absolutely, in the race, we need a little bit more work.
“We were just that tenth or so behind nearly every lap, pace-wise. It’s a surprise, but not in some ways.”
The squad will be back on track for the conclusion of the Watpac Townsville 400 today with Armor All Qualifying at 1130 AEST.