Dane: Too late for team orders to be effective
Jamie Whincup was ultimately not forced to give up position to team-mate Shane van Gisbergen as the opportunity to benefit from the move had passed, according to Roland Dane.
Whincup finished fourth in Race 11 of the Supercars Championship at the Pirtek Perth SuperNight after holding out van Gisbergen despite struggling for rear tyre grip in the latter stages.
For a brief period, however, he was under orders to “Let Shane through mate, let Shane through please” from engineer David Cauchi, in the hope that his fellow Red Bull Holden Racing driver would catch Chaz Mostert and nab a place on the podium.
Whincup successfully argued via his radio that there were only four laps remaining at the time and bridging the gap to the Supercheap Auto Mustang would have been a longshot for van Gisbergen, stating “he can’t get Mostert in four laps.”
Triple Eight Race Engineering team principal Roland Dane agreed, telling Speedcafe.com, “If it had happened a lap before, it was worth doing it, but by the time they were on the ‘phone’ (radio) to Jamie, the opportunity had gone so there was no point after that.”
A positional swap in such a situation would not have been unprecedented for Triple Eight, after van Gisbergen let Craig Lowndes past at Phillip Island last year so that the latter could try and run down third placed Rick Kelly.
On that occasion, Lowndes was subsequently instructed to return the favour to van Gisbergen when he couldn’t get past the Altima, which he did so with some reluctance at the time.
Whincup intimated post-race that he would have been willing to let van Gisbergen have a crack at Mostert if he thought it was a realistic prospect.
“Obviously we work as a team, but when there’s an opportunity to scrap it out on the last five laps, we do it,” he stated.
“If I thought 97 (van Gisbergen) could get a podium then I certainly wouldn’t’ve made it as hard.”
Ford swept the podium positions, ahead of the two factory Holdens, with championship leader Scott McLaughlin salvaging second position behind Shell V-Power Racing team-mate Fabian Coulthard after dropping from Armor All Pole Position to fourth in a poor start to the race.
That outcome left Whincup, who ran prior to the pit stops and kept McLaughlin behind him once the Kiwi passed Mostert for third, to lament not being able to take advantage of the DJR Team Penske driver’s slow getaway.
“Pace gets podiums; we didn’t have the pace today,” he declared.
“We got lucky with 17 having a poor start, only taking on two tyres, but (they) just got out of trouble with pace, so unfortunately we couldn’t capitalise on their error.
“(My) car pace is better without a doubt,” he added after un uncompetitive showing in the preceding event at Phillip Island.
“But is it consistent? We’re unsure.”
Dane expressed a similar view but was pessimistic about making major inroads for Saturday night’s 200km race.
“We probably did the best possible job today, to be honest, that we probably could do with the car,” he told Speedcafe.com.
“There’s always probably a bit more in the car, but the same applies to other people so I don’t expect it to be that different.”
The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship continues today with Practice 3 at 1305 local time/1505 AEST.