No “fun factor” for Whincup amid Triple Eight struggle

Whincup’s Island woes started when he missed the Q2 cutoff in Friday’s second practice session, which meant going to the long way in Saturday’s qualifying session. He missed the cutoff again in qualifying itself, bundled out in Q1 with a 17th place starting position.

Saturday’s race didn’t go any better for Whincup, who DNFed thanks to a lost front-right wheel, while on Sunday he qualified 10th and finished 12th.

The poor showing came off the back of a pair of uncharacteristic mistakes from Whincup in Tasmania last week, with a costly spin in qualifying and a clumsy tangle with Chaz Mostert on the second lap of the Saturday race.

Reflecting on the Phillip Island weekend, Whincup said it was one of his toughest as a Triple Eight driver, and that there is little fun battling around in the midfield.

“It’s been one of the toughest weekends that we’ve done,” he said.

“Sometimes you are struck with bad luck and you don’t quite get the result you want but what this weekend proved is that it’s all about pace.

“If you don’t have pace, then you aren’t having any fun out there – especially when you’ve had that pace. If you’re used to running mid-pack, then it’s not so bad, but when you’re used to running at the front and you don’t, unfortunately that fun factor is taken out of it for you.

“We are all about having fun so we want to make sure we will get there.”

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Whincup added that he expected some terse debriefs between now and the Perth round in a little over a fortnight.

“There will be plenty of questions asked [this] week without a doubt and we’re not going to hide behind them,” he said.

“We need to have an honest debrief when we get back to the workshop on Tuesday afternoon and nut out exactly why we are in this position. As the boss would say assume nothing.

“And to our supporters, we guarantee that our results haven’t been through a lack of trying by the team. It’s been through possibly a lack of direction, and we definitely want to get back on track and get back to being the Red Bull Holden Racing team striving to be back out in the front again.”

Shane van Gisbergen, a winner last time out in Tasmania, finished the PI weekend with a sixth and a seventh, also failing to trouble the front-runners at any point.

The 2016 series champion is now 256 points behind fellow Kiwi Scott McLaughlin in the standings, while Whincup – who was just 30 points behind the leader heading to Tasmania – is now well over a round behind, sitting in ninth with a 379-point deficit.

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