Chaz Mostert was not blamed by the stewards for contact with James Courtney on Sunday – but the aggressive move could very well have cost him the race win at Winton.
Team boss Tim Edwards confirmed Mostert was fuelled to the end of the 200km dash after a clever strategy play by the Prodrive team.
The Supercheap Auto racer pitted twice under Safety Car to take on the required 120 litres of fuel.
“He would’ve won the race by half a lap – he didn’t have to stop again. Other people still had two stops to make,” Edwards told supercars.com.
“He did two [stops] under safety car – he came in, put fuel in, plus some fuel up the hose, and went round. I can’t remember if it was one or two laps later the safety car was still out, they put the rest of the fuel in to get 120 in the car and he was good to go to the end.”
Edwards was shocked no one else went with the same play.
“He knew he was fuelled to the end – it surprised us nobody else did.
“His engineer Brad Wischusen and the team were fist pumping in the garage when they realised they could do it! Obviously not having to do a 25sec drive through the pit lane – ifs, buts and maybes, it didn’t quite pan out that way.”
He certainly didn’t believe Mostert did anything wrong by having a go at passing the Holden Racing Team Commodore. Edwards agreed Mostert could’ve been more patient – “but they’re racing drivers”.
“The problem is, it’s a very difficult track to pass on and more so with the resurface, so if you’ve got half an opportunity you just have to take it.
“There was definitely half an opportunity there. He got in there and it just depends – some people will concede and go ‘yep, fair enough, you’re in there enough’ so you can concede or you can fight to the death knock – James decided to fight to the death knock.
“It’s just one of those things. Everybody will have their own view, it was a racing incident from the stewards' point of view, from my point of view it was a racing incident as well.
“Yep, it was an aggressive pass by Chaz, but you can also concede as well.”
Heading into the Woodstock Winton SuperSprint, Mostert admitted he was feeling rusty in the car and “forgetting some key points” behind the wheel. Edwards was not concerned about his progress and believes the young gun would shoot up the points score soon enough. He’s currently 12th after 11 races and 379 points away from leader and teammate Mark Winterbottom.
“He’s got the car speed, you saw that both in qualifying and the race on the weekend,” Edwards said.
“He’s a lot happier now because he knows he can qualify well and he knows he can race well.
“I think he just needs a bit of lady luck to fall his way – he was odds on winner for that race had it not been for that incident…
“He just needs to get a good result and he’ll get on a roll.
“There’s no panic stations or anything like that. Of course we’d like to be further up in the points, but it’ll happen.”