Jamie Whincup has blamed a lack of pace in his Red Bull Racing Australia Commodore for his fade out on the second last lap at Queensland Raceway.
The six-time champ looked set for the victory until van Gisbergen charged past him with two laps to go. The quick Kiwi insisted he was always going to have a go for the win – he just wanted to do it cleanly.
Whincup felt vulnerable as he faded away late in the race and was not surprised to see van Gisbergen edge past, robbing him of his 100th Supercars race win and lowering the points gap between them to 41 points.
“The story of my day – I just wasn’t quick enough. I bolted off the line, got to the front and was just a mobile chicane from there,” Whincup said.
“I was holding Lowndesy up the whole way – unfortunately that’s the way it goes, you’ve got to race hard.
"Shane was coming on pretty strong, he was always going to get us.”
Whincup had the preferred strategy, which differed from van Gisbergen’s, and in hindsight still believed they played the game well, as he raced Craig Lowndes early on.
After van Gisbergen made an early error in Townsville at the last event, he was handed the better strategy and won the race with it.
This time, van Gisbergen’s option of running long and pitting later also proved to be the winner.
“The lead car always gets the preference and we chose to pit early to cover Craig and I believe that was the right call,” Whincup said.
“As I said, we just didn’t have enough pace – that’s what lost us the race.”
The other difference between the two cars was van Gisbergen taking on fuel in his pit stop, while neither of the other Triple Eight cars did. While it means conserving later on, the advantage is that it frees up pit stop personnel to help change tyres quicker.
“I was short on petrol, I was conserving a little bit,” Whincup said.
“Shane fuelled, I didn’t – we were right on the cusp. Once again it’s all engineer, so it's right on the borderline to create different strategies. It was a good day for that.”
Whincup acknowledged the effort of his Triple Eight team as they scored another one-two-three on the podium.
“It’s a great win for the team. A one-two-three should never be taken for granted,” he said.
The six-time champ continues to lead the Championship points, though the gap back to van Gisbergen is now just 41 points.