Jamie Whincup believes ‘big changes’ are required to beat Scott McLaughlin despite declaring that he and Triple Eight won the ‘most improved award’ after a drought breaking podium.
The seven-time Supercars champion offered a much improved showing at the Pirtek Perth SuperNight to end a run of five races without a podium in Race 12 at Barbagallo Wanneroo Raceway.
The result arrived after a horror weekend at Phillip Island for Whincup that saw the 36-year-old and the factory Holden team well off the pace.
Fast forward three weeks, Whincup, who qualified second for the 200km race, managed to get the jump on Armor All Pole-sitter McLaughlin and held off the championship leader before ducking into the pits for service.
Whincup rejoined the race behind the #17 Ford Mustang, where he remained until the chequered flag as McLaughlin racked up his eighth win from 12 races.
While confident the team has started to close the gap to McLaughlin and Shell V-Power Racing, the onus remains on the factory Holden squad to step up its challenge for the sake of the category.
“Obviously we are very happy with the end results,” said Whincup.
“I feel like we have won the most improved award as we were very ordinary three weeks ago.
“The engineers have done a fantastic job to turn things around and give us competitive pace this weekend, but the next step isn’t a click of the dampers or click of a rollbar, it’s a lot more involved.
“The team next door (DJR Team Penske) has absolutely raised the game and they’re in another league at the moment.
“I feel that for the good of the sport it’s up to us to do the something and step up to the challenge.
“It’s fantastic to beat everyone else but if we are serious, we need to make some big changes to beat Car 17 at a consistent level.
“We feel good about maximising this weekend with the tools we had but again, when we get back, we will sit down as a team and work out how we can get more tools in the toolbox.
“We’ve definitely made a big step up. There’s still a long way to go of course, but you always want to be on the improve.”
McLaughlin’s flying start to the season coupled with Whincup’s struggles sees the latter already 409 points adrift of the series leader.
Despite the deficit, Whincup, who climbed from ninth to sixth in the standings over the course of the weekend, is refusing to think about his championship prospects.
“It’s a lot. The points are what they are. Very happy to be the most improved award, we were absolutely nowhere at Philip Island.
“We’ll see what rolls, no point talking championship this early.”
The championship heads to Winton for the sixth event of the season from May 24-26.