Jamie Whincup displayed his team player characteristics by carrying out an in-race investigation of Shane van Gisbergen’s damaged wheel to assist the Triple Eight squad.
Van Gisbergen reported a vibration in his car during the early laps of the 70 lap encounter while running ahead of Whincup in fifth spot.
Unbeknown to the Kiwi, he had bent the rim on his left front wheel having glanced the wall at Turn 2, an incident that was witnessed and noted by Whincup.
To assist his team the seven-time champion was able to assess the damage and offer valuable feedback to the garage via the radio.
“Shane, he clipped the wall coming out of Turn 2 on the left, and it’s buckled the rim,” said Whincup when asked about Van Gisbergen’s early issue.
“The rim was wobbling all over the place, so I think he’s very lucky not to have suspension damage.
“I saw him hit the wall, I was right behind him and I was just trying to drive down the straight trying to give it a bit of an inspection to see what was going on to give the team a heads up before he came in for a pit stop.
“If you’ve mangled a wheel nut then you need to be prepared for it at the stop so I kind of had the best spot to see it, so debriefed the damage and maybe it helped, maybe it didn’t.”
After discarding the bent wheel in his first pit stop, van Gisbergen eventually came home in fourth following a charging drive from seventh in the final 18 laps after his second stop.
“In some ways I’m disappointed but happy with the race,” said van Gisbergen.
“We didn’t get the strategy right, but I had good battles and I was able to fight with people and Jamie got second, so it’s pretty exciting.
“But on the other hand, I had a much better car than fourth, so that’s why it’s exciting, but disappointing because we didn’t make the most of it.
“I had a bent rim in the first stint, but it didn’t really affect me.
“Then we got caught out running long in the middle stint, with all the people who had taken their second stop with good tyres trying to pass us, so we lost a few seconds there, which cost us a podium.”
Meanwhile, Whincup provided a stern challenge for victory after opting for an aggressive undercut strategy which saw him rise from sixth to hit the lead.
The 36-year-old emerged in front after the second round of stops but was eventually run down by Scott McLaughlin on Lap 49 and then held off Chaz Mostert to finish second.
“We were very aggressive with strategy, which is dangerous, but we pulled it off today,” said Whincup.
“The only strategy better than what we did was to have a faster car, which is what happened with car 17 and why we ran second.
“Unfortunately we haven’t made a step forward, but we’ve made a step sideways, so there might be a bit more fish in this pond we’re fishing now.
“I’m much happier doing that than just belting round doing the same thing. We’re happy with the progress, we’ve just got to keep grinding away. We’ll get there, but it’s going to take some time.
“I did have fun, for sure. I enjoyed the battles with Chaz (Mostert), it was gnarly.”