Lee Holdsworth says “another half a second” to the good might have been enough for him to beat Scott McLaughlin in the Truck Assist Sydney SuperSprint opener.
The Truck Assist Racing driver lamented the missed opportunity after using two sets of soft compound tyres.
By contrast, McLaughlin only used one set of soft compound tyres after starting the race from pole position on the hard compound and keeping within range of the leading pack.
Holdsworth was firmly in contention for the win after making his way to second on the road before the pit stop sequence behind Shane van Gisbergen.
After van Gisbergen ran long and lost ground to the effective leaders, Holdsworth usurped the Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver and came out in front of McLaughlin to lead.
The Shell V-Power Racing Team driver was followed closely by Anton De Pasquale of Penrite Racing who had also run the same strategy as Holdsworth.
However, Holdsworth couldn’t keep McLaughlin at bay into Turn 4 and also ceded position to De Pasquale in the process.
In the end, Holdsworth managed to repass De Pasquale, but couldn’t catch McLaughlin for the race lead despite being on slightly newer tyres.
“Our pit stop probably wasn’t one of the fastest ones, so I’m a little bit disappointed with that,” said Holdsworth.
“All we needed was probably another half a second just to give us that comfort zone through (Turn) 3.
“I think I would have been able to hold them off through (Turn 3) and probably would’ve been okay given that I had fresher tyres than the both of them.”
In the lead-up to Round 4 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, strategy talk largely surrounded the use of going all-out in one of the three races.
Holdsworth and De Pasquale both took the aggressive soft-soft approach, which has left them with new hard compound tyres for Sunday’s two races.
Whilst disappointed not to maximise his tyre pace, Holdsworth said he can’t be disheartened with a second place finish.
“It was pretty disappointing, especially when you run a strategy like we did on softs the whole race,” said De Pasquale.
“You really want to get that win, and that was what we were going for, but it didn’t happen.
“Scotty did a great job as well as Anton. I’m not completely disappointed, that’s for sure, because podiums are awesome and I’m pretty happy to bring home P2.”
De Pasquale noted that his third place finish was probably as high as he would get for the weekend having spent the best of his allocation.
However, he said Erebus Motorsport team-mate David Reynolds may come to the fore having run a conservative strategy.
“I haven’t run the hard tyre yet so I think we’ll find out tomorrow,” De Pasquale said of his anticipated pace.
“A lot of people made it work for a decent result so that’s what we’ll be going for.
“Podiums and wins are probably going to be out of the question but to end the weekend with a podium and some good results with good points, that’s all we need.
“Dave will obviously have good tyres for tomorrow so we’ll hopefully make it work as a team.”
Qualifying for Race 11 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship at Sydney Motorsport Park gets underway at 10:45 local time/AEST.