A day to forget

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 13/09/2015
  • By Kassie Gadeke

Defending champion Jamie Whincup says he is not even thinking about his championship chances after a disastrous Wilson Security Sandown 500.

Whincup and co-driver Paul Dumbrell led for the majority of the race before a pit stop went wrong and punctured tyre saw them slip back to 15th place.

The six-time champion has also slipped to eighth place on the championship table and he now trails leader Mark Winterbottom by 629 points.

"I haven't looked, I don't know where we are at - but it's not something I'm thinking about now," Whincup told v8supercars.com.au

"I'm obviously disappointed - I'm actually fatigued more than anything but disappointed at the same time.

"It's a cruel game we play but we understand that when we get involved in the sport. I feel like we represented really well.

"We did everything we could - started on pole position, we were leading the race and I felt like we were the car to beat. But that's motorsport.

"A few errors from the team ... I'm not just throwing my hands up and saying bad luck - you make your own luck. As a team we made some errors and that's why we didn't stand on the podium today."

He took solace in an upturn in performance, saying car #1 was the one to beat today as he and co-driver Paul Dumbrell fought for the chance of a three-peat at Sandown Raceway.

After a strong start from Dumbrell, the Red Bull rocket held the effective lead for two-thirds of the race.

Whincup ducked into the pit lane with 50 laps for what was a reasonably unexpected pit stop - and with it his chance at victory slipped away.

A mistake in the pit stop damaged the right rear tyre of his car, causing a puncture and dragging him back through the pit lane again to re-join buried in the pack.

The 15th place finish was far from the win he looked on track for, and his Championship is in tatters after what could have been 300 points in the bank went to leader and long time bitter rival Mark Winterbottom.

Whincup didn't discuss the pit stop or the strategy, saying he wasn't unsure what happened - but team boss Roland Dane confirmed it was an error from the team that looked to have cost them the race.

"Something that holds the spare wheel nut onto the gantry fell off and went under the car," Dane told v8supercars.com.au.

"We had an error in the pit stop, so the wheel nut issue and that thing indirectly caused the puncture.

"A bit disappointed with the result but at the same time very proud of what everyone's done."

It has been a difficult run in to the event with Whincup losing miles at the team's single independent test day. His new car ran faultlessly at Sandown, though, and he says he's in a good frame of mind for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

"We're improving, we were in the box seat there, that's the main thing.

"Just didn't get the result we deserved in the race.

"We were forever improving - we promised we would and we have.

"We've still got a bit to go, but we're getting there, which is what it's all about."

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