Paul Dumbrell has given a strong indication that the Vodafone Gold Coast 600 will be his last event in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship after crashing out of Race 27.
Dumbrell took the wheel of Jamie Whincup’s #1 Red Bull HRT ZB Commodore to start the race and was running seventh as heavy rain began to fall around the Surfers Paradise Street Circuit.
He became the first serious victim of the conditions when he slid into the wall on his own at Turn 13 on Lap 29.
Any hopes of reversing out of the tyre wall and salvaging a result were dashed when Macauley Jones, the next car on the scene, could not avoid him and pushed Car #1 in deeper.
The car was carried back to the pits on a flatbed, effectively snuffing out Whincup’s already slim championship hopes, although the race was eventually abandoned completely after two red flags.
Dumbrell’s driving future has represented a question mark ever since Craig Lowndes’ retirement announcement in July.
With Lowndes to continue as a co-driver, the uncertainty intensified once it became clear that Triple Eight Race Engineering would be scaling back to two cars.
Dumbrell did nothing to downplay suggestions that he could not suit up again for Triple Eight in 2019 after the crash.
“It’s a pretty disappointing way to go out, to be honest,” he responded when asked if the race was his last in the Supercars Championship.
“We’ll see what happens. I would have liked to have finished on more of a high, like we do every year, but it’s not to be this year.
“It has been good and I’ll reflect on it one day and say I’ve enjoyed the times, obviously we’ve led a few races along the way, but we’ve all got to retire one day, don’t we?”
On the incident itself, Dumbrell acknowledged the trickiness of the conditions but accepted responsibility for the mistake.
“There are 25 other guys and girls that didn’t hit the fence and I did. It’s really disappointing,” he observed.
“The car was okay; obviously everyone was just circulating there in the damp conditions, I misjudged it and got it all wrong.
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing; they resurfaced that four or five years ago and it’s quite slick.
“Four or five minutes around here is a long time and there can be a fair bit of standing water sitting there when you come around the next time.”
Dumbrell made his full-time debut in 2003 as a replacement for Russell Ingall at Perkins Engineering.
He moved to Paul Weel Racing in 2007 before two years in Walkinshaw-prepared cars, first at the HSV Dealer Team and then Walkinshaw Racing itself.
A move to Ford Performance Racing, his first time driving a Falcon, followed in 2010 and he took a maiden race win at Sandown late in that season.
Since that time, Dumbrell has co-driven with childhood friend Whincup at Triple Eight.
They won the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 in their first year together, but have experienced a succession of near misses in the Great Race ever since.
After costly errors at Bathurst in 2013, Dumbrell returned to the Dunlop Super2 Series in 2014 in a bid to keep himself sharp behind the wheel and won that title a second time that season.
He had maintained, however, that he would hold the discussion with team principal Roland Dane after the Gold Coast 600.
Dumbrell is a minor shareholder in the team but says that he has “zero” input in co-driver appointments, which are made by Dane and team manager Mark Dutton.
He remains in contention for this year’s Super2 Series at 32 points behind leader Chris Pither, with one round remaining at the Coates Hire Newcastle 500 on November 23-25.