When you’re hunting for a championship win, the last thing you can afford is valuable points slipping away from under your nose. You might as well flush a wad of pineapples down the toilet and even then it probably wouldn’t sting as much as one dodgy race when the closest rival regularly has an ace up his sleeve.
But that’s exactly what happened to the no. 88 Red Bull Holden Racing Team entry of Jamie Whincup at the Ipswich SuperSprint.
Having had an extremely positive test at Queensland Raceway just a month before, Saturday’s poor qualifying result and even worse race weren’t what anybody expected to see, but it’s how you pick yourselves up from these things that matters.
“Our issues on Saturday were caused by a combination of car setup and some pit stop issues, which have been addressed, certainly the pit stop issues,” said J-Dub’s Race Engineer, David Cauchi.
“The setup issues on Saturday we got on top of on Sunday and we were certainly looking like we’d get on the podium until the safety car, but we’re still working at our car speed, which is still not good enough compared to some of our rivals.
“We’re still developing our setup direction, so we’re trying some different things on Fridays during practice and hopefully they’ll all come together to some good car speed in qualifying come the Saturday.”
After a less-than-perfect weekend at QR, preparation is key for next week’s Sydney SuperSprint.
Sydney Motorsport Park proved to be the site of a milestone for Jamie last year when he became just the second driver behind Triple Eight teammate Craig Lowndes to hit 100 race wins.
“I think that’s a very significant achievement that not many drivers get to achieve and we’re lucky enough to have two drivers in our team that have achieved that so I think that’s a testament to everybody’s commitment and hard work,” Cauchi continued.
However, numbers and stats count for nothing when it’s time to hit the track each weekend, and perhaps even less so when the fight for top spot in the championship standings is as intense as it is this year.
With next week’s event being that last SuperSprint before the enduro season, there’s no room for error when fortunes can change dramatically with a drop of oil or a puff of smoke.
“There’s no question that the Saturday performance at QR certainly hurt us in the championship, which could turn out to be very costly, but there are a lot of points on offer in the endurance races with 300 points per race for Sandown and Bathurst. The deficit that we’ve created could very easily flip the other way, so I think we’re still in a very strong position, but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”