His best day in the 2016 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship hasn’t prompted Jamie Whincup to become more bullish about his championship prospects.
In fact, he says he is definitely “not getting carried away”.
Despite his first ARMOR ALL pole position for the year, a dominant win in the 200km Race 14 at the Castrol EDGE Townsville 400 yesterday and an extended drivers’ championship points lead, the Red Bull Holden Commodore VF driver was predicting a difficult rather than promising road ahead.
“We have certainly improved what we do but we are still not consistent enough yet,” the six-time champion told supercars.com on Saturday evening.
“We haven’t been doing a good enough job to keep being consistent.
“The cars are a bit inconsistent at the moment. They were good today, but we are not sure how they will be tomorrow, so we are more up and down than we would like.
“But we will keep working away at that.”
The win was number 99 for Whincup, with the prospect of bringing up number 100 tomorrow. Only Triple Race Engineering team-mate Craig Lowndes is ahead of him on the all-time winners list with 104.
Whincup also extended his championship lead from 30 to 83 points, with Red Bull team-mate and runner-up Shane van Gisbergen climbing from fifth to second place.
But that didn’t prompt any bold declarations from Whincup.
“To be at Townsville and only my first pole and second win (for the year), it’s been pretty light for our standards. It’s not something I am proud of, it’s not something we are getting carried away with a win today.
“We still have all the resources there that were there when we were sitting on five or six wins at this stage of the year. They are still there and exist but we just haven’t been making the most of them.
“But we are looking forward to the challenge on trying to get better.”
Whincup said he wouldn’t seriously consider his championship chances until the Pirtek Enduro Cup was run and done late in the championship.
“You have those big 300 points dual driver enduros coming up and there is 900 points up for grabs in those three races and there is about 160 points separating the top six.
“You work hard to be in championship contention at the end of the year. I was disappointed I wasn’t last year so I certainly want to be a contender this year.”
Unlike van Gisbergen, Whincup isn’t making a big deal out of the progress made at the team’s pre-Darwin test day, even though Red Bull has claimed every pole position and two out of three races since then.
“We are not as far forward as we would have liked mainly because a half-a-day on that test got written off because the track got flooded the week before.
“So we haven’t really made ourselves much luck this so year so we will just keep pushing on. That’s all we can do.”
Whincup acknowledged the importance of qualifying ahead of van Gisbergen – as he had done today – was crucial in his championship chances because it allowed him to dictate pitlane strategy and avoid stacking.
“We have shared being in front,” Whincup said. “But I have copped three first lap safety cars, which is seriously unlucky and had to stack three times.
“Shane has been lucky enough that when he has been behind he hasn’t had to stack, which is a good thing.
“Stacking is part of the game, there is no point complaining about it, you just need to be the lead car. Today there wasn’t that first lap safety car in the first 10 laps, so he didn’t have to stack and we could have a race for it and have a one-two.”
Whincup refused to elaborate on his reference to “entertainment safety cars” made immediately after the race on television. His late-race lead evaporated when Nick Percat crashed his LDM Commodore and a safety car was called, although he did concede on TV that paradise safety car was a legitimate decision.
“I won’t say any more that what I said on telly,” he said.