Davison Laments Pit Drama at Wilson Security Sandown 500
Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
By V8 Supercars
Shattered Falcon driver Will Davison was perplexed by a team decision to 'stack' his Pepsi Max Crew Ford teammate Steve Owen, claiming it cost him the Wilson Security Sandown 500.
Some would argue ultimate winner Jamie Whincup was so dominant he would have won the race regardless, but that did not fill Davison with joy post-race.
Whincup and Paul Dumbrell won the race in a Red Bull Australia 1-2 with Craig Lowndes and Warren Luff. Davison and Owen were third and wondering how the trace back affected their race.
The RBRA 1-2 came the week that parent company Triple Eight Race Engineering celebrated 10 years of V8 Supercar racing as the most dominant force in recent times.
In a frenzied section of the classic Melbourne race Owen was forced to wait behind the rival team car of Steven Richards in the pit, despite the latter being well behind on the track. Despite an inter-team agreement to favour the leading car, the opposite happened.
The confusion came at a Pedders STP Safety Car for Wilson Security DJR's Ash Walsh who had hit a wall at more than 200km/h, forcing some quick thinking from all teams.
"We knew that it was a potential scenario, we had discussed all of these scenarios, but we had also discussed that if a car was ahead in position, but effectively wasn't in the same race we wouldn't have to queue behind that car," Davison explained.
"It's very unfortunate that the Safety Car that came with that DJR car came at that exact moment, we were praying that we could get another three laps without a safety car because he (Richards) effectively hadn't put any fuel in the car yet at that stage and we pretty much had a full tank.
"It was a very unfortunate set of circumstances probably both engineers' worst nightmare that it fell at that moment, but I suppose it's at that moment that you stick to an agreement.
"I have to go and work out exactly how it happened. I don't think there was any malice in it, two competitive engineers and two competitive drivers and a little bit of confusion."
But Whincup was a class above today with he, too, having pit stop dramas that included an almost embarrassing mix-up when Dumbrell was told to stay in the car, only to be told otherwise just before he stopped on the mark.
In the confusion he started to get out in the complex process of unbuckling and removing all of his cables, only to be told to stay in. During this the wheels spun which is a compulsory penalty because of safety and potential advantage, putting him back to 25th.
"I don't know how much information you got from the race but it certainly wasn't Paul's fault with the drive through penalty," Whincup said.
"It was an extremely late call, generally the engineers are getting the driver out of mischief but I would like to think we have credit back, minus 150.
"The engineers made a late call, it made it difficult for us and we got them out of trouble but in saying that we, between the two cars, have never worked so closely in the last six years.
"I have been on the receiving end three times, 2009, 2010 with Steve and 2012 where I have been done in the last stint of the 500 so it was certainly nice to get one back."
Whincup passed Lowndes late in the race and was consistently faster than the entire field at that point. There was a period when it appeared they may have brought each other undone.
"It certainly wasn't easy, both cars were extremely quick and we were pushing as hard as we can," he said.
"No team orders, I like to think we are here to put on a show and put on our best effort and we certainly did that. It would have been easy to slow both cars down but that's not what we are about, we are about going hard to the end and that's what happened."
The other great story of the day was the surge of the Erebus Motorsport V8 Mercedes-Benz AMG of Lee Holdsworth who was in the fight all day and finished fourth behind Davison.
All three of the Erebus cars featured in the top 10 during the race and Lee Holdsworth/Craig Baird coming in fourth, which Holdsworth said felt like a win.
"This has been so rewarding after where we were at Winton where we qualified last for all races. We were really close to the podium, it was rewarding for all of us, the Erebus Motorsport team and all the sponsors – especially IRWIN Tools who've stuck with us," Holdsworth said.
"It's good to feel like we have some momentum. The guys absolutely nailed the strategy, we're at a huge disadvantage with fuel and spent more time in pit lane than others. Some elements played into our hands with a bit of safety car luck, but it was an all-round great team effort."
The top 10 was rounded out by James Courtney/Greg Murphy in fifth – Courtney now rises to fifth in the Championship, Winterbottom/Richards, Fabian Coulthard/Luke Youlden, Scott McLaughlin/Jack Perkins, Russell Ingall/Ryan Briscoe and Alex Premat/Greg Ritter.