Shane van Gisbergen’s Darwin clash with Will Davison proved “costly", says Mark Skaife.
Van Gisbergen picked up damage and was penalised over his late-race contact with Davison.
The points leader was classified 21st; meanwhile, closest title rival Anton De Pasquale finished second.
De Pasquale pieced together his best round of 2022 and wiped 67 points off van Gisbergen’s lead.
To Townsville, where each race win is worth 150 points, the margin is 214 points.
Supercars Hall of Famer Skaife reiterated van Gisbergen “didn’t mean” to clatter into Davison.
“We talk about van Gisbergen’s aggression; we love the way he goes about his business,” Skaife told Supercars Trackside.
“He bluffs most of them out of it; his gamesmanship and intimidation is authentic.
“That little mistake is a costly one. It’s not one that he meant to do.
“Ford fans will be saying, ‘Oh, van Gisbergen, van Gisbergen’. He didn’t mean to run into him.
"He fired down there, turned back across and as he tried to stop it, you’ve got 1500 kilos of Commodore you can’t keep to the left-hand side.”
Skaife praised Shell V-Power Racing Team, with De Pasquale and Davison’s performances helping it to the teams’ championship lead.
De Pasquale is now 427 points closer to the points leader after six rounds versus 2021.
Davison and Cam Waters are also within a round’s worth of points of van Gisbergen.
“The theme of the weekend was Ford bouncing back and taking it to van Gisbergen,” Skaife said.
“The number, 281 to 214, is a 67-point margin [loss] for van Gisbergen.
“I know it’s still a big ticket number, but we were saying you had to do that this weekend.
“You have to put those weekends together, and they did a beautiful job."
Cars will hit the track for dual practice sessions next Friday. Purchase your NTI Townsville 500 tickets now.