Whincup ‘lucky’ to make shootout at SMP

Jamie Whincup’s #88 ZB Commodore. Picture: Mark Horsburgh

Red Bull Ampol Racing’s Jamie Whincup says he was lucky to make the Top 10 Shootout after struggling to tame an ill-handling Holden.

Whincup wound up eighth at the close of Qualifying for Race 20, more than eighth tenths adrift of provisional pole winner Anton De Pasquale of the Shell V-Power Racing Team.

By comparison, Triple Eight Race Engineering team-mate Shane van Gisbergen ended the session fourth fastest.

Seven-time Repco Supercars Championship winner Whincup was 12th and second quickest respectively in Friday’s two practice sessions.

Though, as his team-mate predicted at the close of play on Friday, a change in wind direction made life difficult come Saturday.

“I think we were pretty lucky in that one to get through because the car wasn’t flash – understeer, oversteer, all those sorts of things,” said Whincup.

“Finished the lap, it wasn’t pretty, and I said, ‘We’ll be lucky to get through here’.

“Thankful we’re P8, so we’re in. Massive difference, just with the wind. At a high-speed, wind dependent circuit like this, it makes a big difference.”

Asked whether car set-up changes were afoot, Whincup replied, “Definitely changes.

“I tried a few things then and nothing seemed to work, so we’ll tune it up.”

Fellow Supercars veteran Mark Winterbottom was left to lament his best effort of 16th in the session.

Like Whincup, Winterbottom bemoaned the conditions.

After having a headwind into Turn 1 on Friday, that switched to a tailwind effectively pushing drivers through the corner.

“One minute you’re almost flat into Turn 1 and the next it’s almost trying to drive you off the track,” said Winterbottom.

“In anything, it’s the same for everyone. You can’t just say you’re here because of the wind because there’s 15 other cars that got it right and we didn’t.

“It is what it is. It’s tough conditions. Tonight we turn the lights on and the track grip goes through the roof.

“It’s forever changing. That’s good and bad; good that we’re at one track with all these different conditions because it spices it up, but it’s an engineer and driver’s nightmare. It’s hard work.”

Winterbottom’s Team 18 stable-mate Scott Pye qualified even worse in 18th.

The Top 10 Shootout is slated for 16:40 local time/AEDT.

Join the discussion below in the Speedcafe.com comments section

Please note: Speedcafe.com reserves the right to remove any comment that does not follow the comment policy. For support, contact [email protected]