Jamie Whincup maintains that the penalty which cost him victory in the 2016 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 was incorrect, and that those who made the decision would admit as much.
Whincup was battling with Scott McLaughlin for the effective lead of the motor race when they touched at The Chase as the Triple Eight driver attempted a pass on Lap 150.
The contact saw McLaughlin leave the road and as Whincup slowed to redress the incident, Garth Tander attempted to capitalise but set off an even bigger crash which wiped out his Holden Racing Team entry and took the Kiwi’s Volvo out of contention.
Whincup would go on to take the chequered flag first in the Red Bull Commodore which he shared with Paul Dumbrell but with a 15-second penalty pending for Car #88, the Tekno Autosports pair of Will Davison and Jonathon Webb were officially the victors.
The controversy, however, raged for more than a week afterwards as Triple Eight Race Engineering appealed the penalty, which was ultimately dismissed altogether as the matter was determined in-race.
Reflecting on the drama on the V8 Sleuth Podcast, Whincup stated, “That was brutal, we got done heavily there.”
He believes that those responsible for the original decision to issue the 15-second penalty for what was deemed “Careless Driving”, including then-Driving Standards Observer Jason Bargwanna, would in fact admit that they made an error on the day.
“Shouldn’t have been a penalty and hey, if you go and talk to the people that were involved now, I wouldn’t be surprised – they probably wouldn’t say it on the record – but they know they made a mistake,” claimed Whincup.
“They made a mistake and cost me the biggest race of the year; me, my team.”
Furthermore, that 10-second penalty, which would have seen Whincup/Dumbrell classified eighth rather than 11th, could have been negated if it had been established that Whincup had in fact redressed the initial clash with McLaughlin.
Triple Eight subsequently sought to amend its appeal to argue that the pass was not a breach of driving standards at all, although that attempt was rejected by the Supercars Court of Appeal before it ultimately deemed that the team had no right to make the original appeal anyway.
The 2016 near miss is one of a continuing string of dramatic defeats for Whincup since his most recent Bathurst triumph in 2012.
However, the four-time Great Race winner, who was asked about the episode on the podcast rather than raising the matter himself, said that he would not linger on it.
“Hundred percent, they (officials) just made a bad call, they just didn’t see it correctly, made a bad call, but unfortunately that’s one that I’m never going to get back,” noted Whincup.
“Move on, move on. You only get a sore neck…”
Whincup’s penalty also makes for a strange historical footnote given that the winning car officially did not lead a lap all race, as a fuel-starved Davison crossed the stripe more than five seconds behind #88 and just 0.1424s ahead of the sister Triple Eight entry of Shane van Gisbergen and Alexandre Premat.