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It’s Game On at The Bend

Break? What break?

After a mammoth four-week festival of racing, the Supercars circus is heading back down south. Destination: Tailem Bend.

With only three rounds left to race in season 2020 and the margin to the top step of the drivers’ championship only 143 points away, it’s all on the line for Jamie ‘JDub’ Whincup.

“The Bend is no doubt one of the best circuits we have in this country. We are so happy to have such a high-quality facility to go racing which was much needed after 19 years after the last. A long straight mixed with fast flowing corners makes it really challenging,” JDub said.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury to circulate and collect points, not that that’s our style anyway. We’re 143 points down and need to take risks on and off the track in an attempt to bridge the gap.”

The bulls’ last podium at The Bend was in 2018, which saw JDub and Shane ‘SVG’ van Gisbergen take out Sunday’s race with a one-two, respectively. 

So, what do you remember from that race, SVG?

“JDub and I were quite fast that weekend, so hopefully we can get somewhere close to that again.

“It’s a really good track to drive on when you have a nice car. I remember we had a couple of rockets that year and to get a one-two in the first year of racing at Tailem Bend was awesome,” SVG said.

Looking forward to this weekend, the bulls are confident their momentum from Townsville and their pace from Supercars’ pre-season testing at Tailem Bend will put them in good stead for the next two weekends of racing.

“It’s a cool track but very tough on the cars. I think qualifying is the most important because it’s near impossible to pass people, so you really have to qualify well at The Bend.

“We’re just going to try our best, have some fun and get some good results,” SVG said.

“We take some confidence out of the fact we were competitive at the test day, but we are going there with a much different setup than that having adopted some of the stuff we have learnt the last few months,” JDub said.

“Wish us luck!”

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Archive Image The Bend

Behind the Scenes: The Bend 2019

Racing for only the second time at The Bend Motorsport Park proved a little tricky for the bulls but in the end as a team it’s about pulling it together and improving every step of the way.  If these photos could talk you can only imagine what was actually happening behind the scenes at the time.

 

The Bend vibes:

OTR SuperSprint The Bend Event 10 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia.23rd-25th August 2019.

Are you seeing what I’m seeing, B1?

 

Directions:

OTR SuperSprint The Bend Event 10 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia.23rd-25th August 2019.

GT just trying to be helpful and point out to Shippy where the track actually is because Shane sure couldn’t find it.

 

Helping hand:

OTR SuperSprint The Bend Event 10 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia. 25th August 2019.

Maybe if that extra hand had been on the wheel, SVG might have actually been able to keep it on track… just sayin’.

 

Co-driver play:

OTR SuperSprint The Bend Event 10 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia.23rd-25th August 2019.

“La la la la la – I can’t hear you!”

 

If looks could kill:

OTR SuperSprint The Bend Event 10 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia. 25th August 2019.

The post-qualy death stare – when you know we’re in some serious strife.

 

Sharing:

OTR SuperSprint The Bend Event 10 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia.23rd-25th August 2019.

When you’re told to you have to share your toys.

 

The glamorous assistant:

OTR SuperSprint The Bend Event 10 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia.23rd-25th August 2019.

Needless to say, Barney did not get the gig modeling the prizes on the Price is Right.

 

Sand pit:

You know you’ve spent too much time in the dirt when Google starts recognising it as one of your most frequently visited locations.

 

Thoughts:

OTR SuperSprint The Bend Event 10 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia.23rd-25th August 2019.

The face you make when your race engineer will only listen to your co-driver.

 

Pit crew problems:

OTR SuperSprint The Bend Event 10 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia.23rd-25th August 2019.

Off with their heads!

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Archive Latest News The Bend

Live Diary: The Bend

Jamie Whincup – Car #88

Practice 4 – 13th (Fastest Time: 01:48.8647)
Qualifying – Fourth (Fastest Time: 01:47.9946)
Race 2Fifth

ChampionshipFifth (1,981 points)
“I am disappointed in my own performance but overall from a team perspective,we fought hard this weekend to make it happen.  We were nowhere on Friday and to get P5 and P6 as a result today is a credit to the team’s effort and hard work. We shouldn’t roll out with the 20th quickest car so slightly behind the A-ball this weekend with car pace. Unfortunately, in the race I fought hard at the start and the tyres were going off hard.  In the end, I pushed a little too hard, dropping a spot and therefore we couldn’t maximise the results we hoped for.  We were aiming for P4 and ended P5 so we will live and learn.  I don’t feel like we performed worse than anyone else, it’s just that as a group we didn’t have a great weekend.”

 

Shane van Gisbergen – Car #97

Practice 4  – 24th (Fastest Time: 01:49.6198)
Qualifying – 16th (Fastest Time: 01:49.5133)
Race 2Sixth

ChampionshipFourth (2,122 points)

“Today we did a good job at salvaging the performance and results from what could have been.  Yesterday we finished in sixth and to get sixth position again today is not too bad again considering the results from practice and being way off the mark.  There is not much to say as it is what it is and from looking at the competition, we were only good enough for sixth.  The team has worked very hard and put together strategies that were good, but during the race I didn’t have any opportunities to pass anyone out there.  It was more about just driving around the track for 41 laps so not much actual racing which we would like to see and opportunities to pass cars.  In the end we just had to work our way up to sixth so we will take it and move on to Auckland.”

 

1545:  Let’s just take the good with the bad.  You saw it, we saw it – and think we can say we definitely got a kick out of The Bend.  Now we look forward to doing the 500 here next year – can anyone say that will get very interesting!?!

1505:  

JDub – P5

SVG – P6

 

1455:  and… this just happened.  Did not see that one coming especially with five to go!

 

1430: Meanwhile SVG keeps moving on up… after starting in P16 bets are on as to which position exactly he will end the race – any guesses?  Your guess is probably as good as ours but we are aiming for at least top 10!

 

 

1355:  Maybe that was too big of a risk JDub?

1350:  Epic driving – keep it up!

 

1340:  Let’s go racing.

1200:  Is it just us or is this day seemingly like a crammed Winton weekend?  There is no time for anything as the race is in just under two hours time.

1130:  Wow – JDub pushes through and ends qualifying with P4.  Some big gains for car 88 after the last two days of being in the back of the pack.

 

 

1120:  SVG will start today’s race from P16.  JDub is straight into Q3 for the final top 10 position on the grid.

 

 

1105:  The qualifying session has started but we are sitting in the garage.  Cars haven’t cooled enough and strategy looks like only one or two flyers.  Stay tuned.

1100:  Boom!  One lap is all that it took for both bulls to end Q1 up on top.  Need to cool down and back at it for Q2.

 

 

1050:  Qualifying time.

0940:  Disappointing ending to practice.   Once again we will be leaving it all on the track to work our way from Q1.

JDub – P13 — 01:48.8647

SVG – P24 — 01:49.6198

 

0900:  Practice 4.

0800:  Final day out at The Bend.  Short and quick day of action out on track.  The crew were back late working on a plan, strategy, data and everything in between to get some answers.

 

 

Sunday 25 August

 

Jamie Whincup – Car #88

Practice 3 – 24th (Fastest Time: 01:50.0142)
Qualifying – Ninth (Fastest Time: 01:48.5502)

Race 1 11th


“We made a huge step from yesterday as we were well and truly down the bottom of the pack but it’s still a little disappointing as it only put us in the bottom of the top 10.  For qualifying, we maximised what we could and did as well as we could have coming from behind; starting in Q1 and going through to the top 10.  The race itself was difficult.  We pitted early and went into it with an aggressive strategy, but the story of the day is that we didn’t have enough pace out there.  At the moment, the biggest concern for me is braking.  I am very weak under brakes and when trying to go deeper into the corners to be competitive, the car simply locks up and goes off track, which is why I lost a few spots in the end.  All that however is insignificant given that we lacked pace and didn’t have fast enough cars, which showed in our results of P6 and P11.  Hopefully we can make another big step forward for tomorrow but it’s not a straightforward solution.  We will take another swing at it and see if we can find the performance needed.”

Shane van Gisbergen – Car #97

Practice 3 – 20th (Fastest Time: 01:49.6618)
Qualifying – Eighth (Fastest Time: 01:48.5912)

Race 1 Sixth

“Finishing the race in sixth position after how the team was going yesterday is a good result.  It felt better this morning but obviously we didn’t get the results we wanted which made us then have to start qualifying in Q1.  For qualifying, the results were better as we managed to move up and qualify in the top 10.  The race was just follow the leader which didn’t allow me to do anything.  I tried a few moves to pass some of the other cars including an undercut but unfortunately had to back off and then ended up following everyone for the rest of the race.  For tomorrow if we can be up there, possibly be third or fourth it would be great but for now we will go back and see if we can continue in the right direction.”

 

1700:  Just before the drivers ducked off into debrief (to hopefully find that much needed performance improvement for tomorrow), they had a couple of words to share on what was a roller coaster of a day.

1630:  Although it’s not where we want to be you have to admit it’s much better than where we started out yesterday or this morning for that matter.  It’s all been a very long work in progress season but we will continue to keep our heads down and work towards finding that ‘thing’ – and if you find it before us please be sure to let us know.

JDub – P11

SVG – P6

 

1600:  As the remainder of the cars settle into the race, SVG is starting to get itchy feet and he just may make a dive around JDub- or Cauchi could just tell JDub to let SVG pass (makes it easier).

 

1545:

 

 

1530:  What a start!  It’s a miracle that JDub and SVG managed to escape any major, if any damage at all.

1525:  500th Championship Race Start here we go!

 

 

1315:  Nice recovery.  We will take that and lock in P8 and P9 on the grid to start  that magical championship race start number 500 here at The Bend.

JDub – P9 — 01:48.5503

SVG – P8 — 01:48.5192

 

1300:  Made it!  Let’s roll into Q3.

1250:  Take 2.

1245:  Great driving from JDub and SVG.  What can we say JDub  just  needs that little bit extra.

 

 

1235: Q1 ready.  Drivers you have 10 minutes.

1200:  It seems like we are going back to back with appearances and on track sessions.  Qualifying is only 30 minutes away and we need to keep moving on up if we are to make Q3.  Are you keeping up with us?

1120:  Coming out of a debrief and  straight into an autograph session to see all the fans that have come out here today.  Thank you for coming out and battling the cold wind to support the Red Bull Holden Racing Team!

 

1030:  Ugh… there is not much we can say.  We are just as devastated as you are for not making it easy on ourselves. bnut there’s not much we can do so starting from Q1 it is for both our drivers.  It will just simply mean that the whole team again will be putting in all the effort to get a good starting position ahead of the race this afternoon.

JDub – P23 — 01:50.0142

SVG – P19 — 01:49.6618

 

1020:  SVG seems to be struggling.  It’s a push and shove with the car.  Looks like he is maintaining the new grass features for the facility.

 

1005:  The weather has certainly taken a turn for the worse.  While managing to blind us this morning in our stunning photo, it has now brought the wind and chill factor.  The rain on the radar seems to be approaching too but maybe,  just maybe it won’t rain on our parade.

 

1000:   The bulls are hitting the track which means that it is also the time to make the top 10 for qualifying.  Here’s to hoping it’s a better day.

0900:  One hour until practice so the drivers retreat to get in the zone.

0745:  Time to get some breakfast and head into briefing.  Let’s hope the engineers have had their Red Bulls.

0730:  It’s a big day in the Triple Eight calendar and yes it does have to be documented.  500th Championship race starts – say CHEESE!

 

OTR SuperSprint The Bend Event 10 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia.23rd-25th August 2019.

 

0700:  It’s never too early for pit stop practice.  Gorgeous sunlight beaming down onto the track this morning but we can feel the chill factor.  Let’s hope that those possible rain clouds stay away!

 

  

 

0645:  Rise and rest!  Yes it’s a new day and just like everyone else it’s time for a new start, new prospective.  After some time in debrief last night here’s to hoping the team have found a plan and strategy for race day.

 

Saturday 24 August

 

Jamie Whincup – Car #88

Practice 1 – 19th (Fastest Time: 01:51.8441)
Practice 225th (Fastest Time: 01:51:4785)

“It was definitely a tough day set up wise.  We arrived here and didn’t roll the car out of the truck fast enough which was evident in the co-driver session.  We made some big changes, but nothing showed any improvement, nor the big performance needed to make a difference out there on the track.  There is no doubt we will be going through a lot of information in debrief tonight so it will be a late night looking over the data for some direction.  We will try to find where our performance has gone from the last round at Queensland Raceway and obviously here last year.”

Shane van Gisbergen – Car #97

Practice 1 –  12th (Fastest Time: 01:51.2295)
Practice 216th (Fastest Time: 01:49.6621)

“Today was a difficult day for the team.  The first practice session was tough and the second session although it seemed to be much better, there still wasn’t enough speed in the car.  We will need to take a look at all three practice sessions and work out what’s gone wrong.  From this morning’s co-driver session, we changed drivers so maybe it’s me.  Fortunately, we do have another practice session tomorrow so the big thing tonight will be to put our heads together between the two cars and come up with a solution for tomorrow.”

 

CO-DRIVERS

OTR SuperSprint The Bend Event 10 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia.23rd-25th August 2019.

 

CRAIG LOWNDES – Car #88

Practice 4 – Ninth (Fastest Time: 01:49.3219)

“It’s great to be back in the car.  This circuit is really a fun track to drive on; good elevation and it’s fast and flowing.  The car was probably a little bit outside the window of where we wanted it to be to begin the practice session.  We had a set up change that we wanted to do and got it done to improve the car slightly within the co-driver practice.  Hopefully the changes made gives the team a direction forward for Jamie and Shane.  It’s great to be back in the car and great to be back here at Tailem Bend.”

 

GARTH TANDER – Car #97

Practice 4 – Third (Fastest Time: 01:50.3110)

“It’s good to be back in the car.  I’ve done a few ride days in the car since the last co-driver session at Winton but it’s good to back in it and have a proper on track session.  The car felt good and I felt comfortable in the car.  We got a bit of development work done for the team, so it was a very encouraging session.”

 

1610:  Definitely not the practice session we were looking for nor the start to the weekend we envisioned.  The garage seemed relatively quiet and it will no doubt be best to leave it to our drivers to sum up exactly just what happened throughout the day.  After all we just get to see it all from the outside and so do you.

JDub – P25 — 01:51.4785

SVG – P16 — 01:49.6621

 

 

 

1540: Practice two is here.

1430:  No much time between practices.  Going straight from debrief into a drivers’ blackout to get into the mood for practice two coming up in an hour.

1340:  Well that was the first practice.  Jumping into debrief for the drivers to see where the improvements can be made.

JDub – P19– 01:51.8441

SVG – P12 — 01:51.2295

 

 

1320:  ICK!  Did you see that?

1310: Gearing up to roll out for practice.  2018 was a great year for us … let’s see if we can make it all happen again.

 

 

1115:  Our co-drivers had a fairly good crack at it out there.  Time to hand it back over to the main drivers for their first practice later today.

CL – P9 – 01:51.3219

GT – P3 – 01:50.3110

 

 

1045:  Co-drivers hit the track for the first time since Winton – now that seems like it was ages ago!

 

1030:  CL takes Car 88 for a quick spin for TV Land before he can jump behind the wheel for the full co-driver session.

 

 

0830:  Lucky enough to have our co-drivers with us – looking ahead to the practice coming up in a couple of hours.

0800:  After a what seems to have been a LONG mid-season break we are back and ready for some weekend of racing at Tailem Bend!

 

Friday 23 August

 

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Behind the scenes: The Bend 2018

The Bend Motorsport Park is a brand-spanking new track and we went there and we smashed it! Not literally, but seriously. Taking out two wins, two poles and another podium to add to the mix… And although we had our heads down, bums up most of the time to get the job done, there was a lot of action going on behind the scenes.

 

OTR SuperSprint event 11 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia.
August 26th 2018

J-Dub having a giggle about the times he’s unplugged his radio mid-race…

 

OTR SuperSprint event 11 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia.
August 24th to 26th 2018

…And then proceeding to give us a demonstration of how easy it is to do.

 

OTR SuperSprint event 11 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia.
August 24th to 26th 2018

“So, you’re telling me that our Prime Minister has changed since I jumped in the car?”

 

OTR SuperSprint event 11 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia.
August 26th 2018

J-Dub wasting as much champagne as he can before wasting his pole prize money… Because apparently an empty bottle of champagne can cost you $1,000 these days… Imagine a full one!

 

OTR SuperSprint event 11 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia.
August 26th 2018

SVG just moments after an RD spray, pre-Riana interview.

 

OTR SuperSprint event 11 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia.
August 26th 2018

And SVG post-Riana interview trying to understand WTF she was actually going on about back there.

 

OTR SuperSprint event 11 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia.
August 26th 2018

When you take your old man to the Valley to show him how it’s done. 

 

OTR SuperSprint event 11 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia.
August 26th 2018

Except he starts trying too hard…

 

OTR SuperSprint event 11 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia.
August 26th 2018

Team Physio, Brady, trying desperately hard to ‘un-see’ what he just saw in the transporter… 

 

OTR SuperSprint event 11 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia. August 24th to 26th 2018

J-Dub after the 57th person asked how his eye was… 

 

OTR SuperSprint event 11 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia. August 26th 2018

Watch out for that roller door, J-Dub 😉  

 

OTR SuperSprint event 11 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia.
August 26th 2018

How many eyes do you have, Cassie? (Sorry not sorry, J-Dub)

 

OTR SuperSprint event 11 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia. August 26th 2018

Tanny Mac, holding what J-Dub should have been wearing when he went near that roller door on Sunday night… 

 

OTR SuperSprint event 11 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia.
August 26th 2018

A new track, incidents, tantrums, steward investigations, fines and bung eyes aside, we still managed to secure the valuable wares (as modeled so bloody brilliantly and fabulously here by our Commercial guru Hollywood).

 

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Archive Latest News The Bend

The tale of The Bend

Two poles, two wins and one series lead reclaimed – the Red Bull Holden Racing Team aced the inaugural event at The Bend Motorsport Park.

By Matthew Clayton for redbull.com

 

First race in a new place. First place in that first race. First place in the second race. From second to first in the title chase. No, the Supercars series isn’t channelling Dr Seuss; that was the tale of the inaugural race weekend at Tailem Bend in South Australia, which ended with two wins for the Red Bull Holden Racing Team, three driver trophies to take home, and a number one next to the name of Shane van Gisbergen atop the championship standings.

The brand-new no-expense-spared Bend Motorsport Park facility an hour or so outside of Adelaide was met with acclaim and rave reviews from the drivers and teams, but it was RBHRT who were most on the money when it mattered, SVG taking Saturday’s 24-lap race after teammate Jamie Whincup snared pole, and J-Dub romping away from the rest in Sunday’s 41-lapper after a second pole in as many days, Van Gisbergen finishing second.

2018 Supercars Championship round 11. The Bend SuperSprint, The Bend Motorsport Park, Tailem Bend, South Australia, Australia. Thursday 23rd August to Sunday 26th August 2018. World Copyright: Daniel Kalisz Photographer Ref: Digital Image DSC_4351.NEF

SVG’s near-perfect weekend, allied to a relatively quiet return (sixth and tenth) for Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin, saw him vault his compatriot to take the championship lead, his relentless consistency of late seeing him earn a 19-point advantage with eight races left this year.

No wonder Van Gisbergen was stoked after such a successful two-day stint at the circuit he believes is now the series’ benchmark.

READ: How The Bend played out for us

“Overall, it’s an awesome result,” he said.

“To have the 1-2 is a pretty dominant performance by the team and it’s awesome to be part of it. It also means we’re now the most-winning team in history which is a huge effort.”

SVG came to The Bend with wins in three of the preceding five races, and while he was beaten by 0.157secs to pole by Whincup on Saturday, he overtook his teammate on lap five of the opening race at the venue and controlled things from there. It was critical for his championship charge that he got ahead, as when a safety car was called two laps later for the Commodore of Garth Tander (Garry Rogers Motorsport) that had ground to a halt, the two RBHRT cars pitted in unison, Whincup forced to double-stack behind his teammate as the field looked to get their compulsory pit stops sorted while the race was neutralised.

2018 Supercars Championship round 11. The Bend SuperSprint, The Bend Motorsport Park, Tailem Bend, South Australia, Australia. Thursday 23rd August to Sunday 26th August 2018. World Copyright: Daniel Kalisz Photographer Ref: Digital Image DSC_6936.NEF

The delay dropped Whincup six spots to eighth, and with tyre degradation on the billiard table-like new surface minimal, he needed speed more than strategy to get back to where he’d been. He didn’t quite manage it, getting up to fourth by the flag, but his disappointment was tempered for the team by SVG finishing over six seconds ahead of the Nissan of Rick Kelly (Castrol Racing) for his sixth win of 2018.

“It’s a shame that Jamie had to double stack – we did that on purpose hoping for a mid-race pit stop because we didn’t know what the tyres were like,” Van Gisbergen explained.

“We were so unsure, so we picked a mid-race stop which unfortunately led to a mid-race stack.

“There have been a couple of rounds on the hard tyre where we’ve been quite a bit slower – Grand Prix and Phillip Island – and the hard tyre on those sorts of tracks has been our weakness and that has been a bit of a worry this weekend. It’s great to see how fast our cars have come.”

OTR SuperSprint event 11 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia. August 24th to 26th 2018

For his part, Whincup blamed his early-race pace more than the lengthy pit visit for leaving him susceptible to outside influences affecting his result.

“We had an unlucky day, you make your own luck in this game and we just weren’t quick enough,” he said after his third pole of the year, and first in 16 races.

“I got a great start but unfortunately, I didn’t have enough pace which was the start of the snowball effect. To be honest, I feel disappointed to not get a podium today, I thought we fought hard and we deserved it. To be six seconds ahead of third and then come out P8 after the stops, I thought I was going to come out second, if not third.”

Fast-forward 24 hours, and it was an all-RBHRT front row again after qualifying, but this time, Whincup was a lot further up the road (0.401secs) than Van Gisbergen, which was a sign of what was to follow.

2018 Supercars Championship round 11. The Bend SuperSprint, The Bend Motorsport Park, Tailem Bend, South Australia, Australia. Thursday 23rd August to Sunday 26th August 2018. World Copyright: Daniel Kalisz Photographer Ref: Digital Image DSC_4158.NEF

Come race time, J-Dub nailed the start from pole and simply cleared off, only losing the lead as the field cycled through its pit stops, and eventually won by a whopping 11 seconds, SVG fending off a late-charging David Reynolds (Erebus Racing) for second.

The dust and dirt blowing onto the track added a degree of difficulty that perhaps the tyre degradation (or lack thereof) didn’t, but when Whincup is in the groove like he was on Sunday, it’s hard to see anyone getting close, whatever the challenges any track can throw up.

MORE: Behind the scenes on Instagram

It was the reigning champion’s fourth win of the year and 112th overall, but as ever, he was quick to dispense the credit elsewhere after the emphatic performance.

“I know it sounds cliché, but at the end of the day we did our homework behind the scenes to make sure that we came here strong and then worked really hard throughout the weekend,” Whincup said.

“The cars are so similar, they have the same power, it just comes down to what you do with it and our crew did a very good job today. You just have to keep getting better and better, there’s no limit in this game. I’ve had some tough starts recently, a few shockers … I haven’t had a bad start in two years, but recently I’ve had some poor ones, so it’s great to have two solid ones this weekend.”

OTR SuperSprint event 11 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia. August 26th 2018

SVG never likes to finish second in anything, but 138 points, combined with McLaughlin’s run to 10th, saw him overcome a 41-point championship deficit to take the series lead, which was denoted by the purple board indicating the identity of the championship leader as he returned to the pits for the podium ceremony.

“I got a bit excited,” he grinned.

“We need to keep our heads down, but credit to the team. The Red Bull Holden Racing Team has given us some rockets this weekend, a 1-2, that’s really special.

“But long way to go. We’ve got to keep focused, but we’re in a good spot.”

MORE: Our race coverage on Twitter

Someone who wasn’t in a good spot after qualifying for Saturday was Triple Eight stablemate Craig Lowndes, who was mired in 25th place and chasing car speed throughout. He found it alright; one of the highlights of the opening race of the weekend was Lowndes tearing through the field from the start, gaining 15 places by the flag to finish 10th.

Sunday’s start for Lowndes was even better, rocketing to the top four from sixth on the grid in the early laps, but he finished two places back from where he started in eighth to consolidate his hold on fourth place in the overall standings.

OTR SuperSprint event 11 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Tailem Bend, South Australia. Australia. August 24th to 26th 2018

With 2778 points across the first 23 races, SVG’s advantage over McLaughlin is minimal but critical, while Whincup’s strong weekend sees the defending champ stay third overall, 362 points behind his teammate.

Next? Now things get really interesting, the endurance part of the season ramping up across the next two months. First up is Sandown (September 14-16), which the team hasn’t won in three years (Whincup and Paul Dumbrell took Triple Eight’s most recent win in 2014), and SVG has never won at all. Given his pace over the past four events, it’s hard to see how even that history won’t see him pegged as one of the favourites in three weeks’ time.