A long brake pedal two corners before disaster was the first sign Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 was about to unravel.
The race favourites were dealt a major blow on lap 40 when the right-front wheel of the Red Bull Commodore parted company.
It was an almost unbelievable latest chapter in a litany of woes for Whincup and Dumbrell at Bathurst since they won the race on their first attempt together in 2012.
Dumbrell was forced to complete a full lap on three wheels before pitting for a new wheel and front splitter, dropping almost two laps down, from which the Sandown winners recovered to 10th.
“I had a long brake pedal into the Chase, but I got the brake pedal back up, halfway through the stop,” Dumbrell explained when asked if there was any warning of a problem.
“I then touched it (the brake pedal) going into the last corner and it felt OK, but as I braked into the last corner it went long again and the car did a bit of a wobble.
“Then down the main straight, I saw it depart the car and pass me, so I knew we were in a bit of trouble.”
Triple Eight boss Roland Dane indicated post-race the issue was the result of the wheel not being done up properly at a double-stacked pitstop five laps earlier.
The squad was fined $5,000 and docked 30 teams’ championship points for the indiscretion.
The last time?
With Craig Lowndes – who won Sunday’s race alongside Steven Richards – set to slot into a Red Bull co-drive next year, Dumbrell’s future is far from certain.
He admitted before Sandown that it could be his last enduro campaign and reiterated that view when asked whether the latest disappointment may impact his future.
Adding to the Bathurst woe, an early clash in Saturday's Dunlop Super2 race with eventual winner Dean Fiore had cost Dumbrell the points lead in the second-tier series.
“It’s been a pretty poor weekend here and in Super2, for very different reasons; one was self-induced and one was a bit of bad luck,” he said.
“It is what it is. We’ll sit down, RD and I, as we always do after Gold Coast, and make the call. But it could be the last time.
“I’ve always been very clear; I’m here for a short time, not a long time, so if it ends up being the end, so be it, I’ll go and find something else to do.”
Asked if the succession of disappointments has increased his appreciation of the 2012 Great Race win, he said: “Absolutely. You sort of take it for granted (initially).
“That was a close finish, then you look over the years, ’13 with Frosty, ’14 with fuel on the last lap, ’15 the Safety Car after we were two laps down again.
“We’ve done a fair bit for the TV ratings. We just don’t have the trophies to show for it.
“But that’s Bathurst. It doesn’t owe us anything and we all owe it something.”