Jamie Whincup says torched tyres and a cautious approach while battling Brodie Kostecki led to his early demise in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
The Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver was the first retirement in the Great Race after he crashed at The Cutting on Lap 33.
A lap prior to the incident, Whincup had been battling to get by Kostecki in the #99 Penrite Racing entry at The Chase, which he said overheated his tyres.
Unable to complete a pass at the first asking, Whincup went to the inside of Kostecki at Griffins Bend.
With Kostecki cast wide of the apex, Whincup slipped up the inside and ran alongside the 22-year-old on approach to The Cutting.
Not knowing whether Kostecki was still to his inside, the #888 pilot took a wide line on entry at The Rockface and lost control of his car as he turned in.
Whincup slapped the adjacent wall, damaging the ZB Commodore, ending his campaign with Craig Lowndes.
The seven-time champion said not knowing how hard Kostecki would race him meant he left the door too far open and ran into the marbles.
“The sour part started early in the day, having to pass cars because of the poor qualifying result,” Whincup told Speedcafe.com.
“Brodie, he’s a unique character. He was going hard, I admire him for going hard, but I hadn’t raced him at all. I’ve never raced Brodie.
“Going up into the Cutting, I thought he was going to keep his nose in, so I went in really deep and wide to try to clear the front of him, and unfortunately got in the marbles and that was the end of my day.
“I lost him at 100 metres before the turn, and I was sure he was just going to hold his nose in. I went deep and wide, and I just went a little bit wide.
“To be honest, I smoked the rears quite a bit down at The Chase. The rears were pretty shot. Then I smoked the rears again coming out of Turn 2 (Griffins Bend).
“The rears, I just didn’t calculate how hot the rear tyres were heading in there.
“In normal conditions, I would’ve got through no problems. Because the tyre temp, the surface temp is so high from the Chase and then up into here, just had no rear grip.
“That’s what happens in this game, one little error costs you massively.
“The car’s not too bad, we’ll be able to put some new wishbones on it, but at the end of the day, we didn’t get a result.”
For Whincup, it was a “sweet and sour” day.
While he and co-driver Lowndes were early retirements, stable-mates Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander went on to win.
Whincup said he believed a strong result was on the cards.
Adding salt to the wound was Monster Energy Racing driver Cameron Waters leapfrogging Whincup in the drivers’ championship.
“Obviously fantastic for car 97 to get a result for the team, the team has worked bloody hard, as everyone has, but we deserved a lot more than in the fence on Lap 30. ” said Whincup.
“It hurts a bit getting done for second on the championship, but if you crash, you don’t deserve second in the championship in some way.
“We came in here approximately 250 points up on Cam, and there’s a lot of points up for grabs in one race, and one little error has cost us second in the championship.
“But all in all, P3 for the year, we won some races. It’s been a crazy year, didn’t end the way I’d like it, but hopefully I can turn it into motivation to go harder next year.
“I’m not a greedy person at all. I’ve been able to stand on the top step four times. I fully understand that not every day can go your way.
“To win races, you’re going to expose yourself, you’re going to have some bad days. Unfortunately, one of those days is today. Hopefully (next year) is a lot different.”