Whincup's title race hit by fatigue
DEFENDING Supercars champion Jamie Whincup admits building three new ZB Commodores for this season took a toll on his Red Bull Holden Racing Team.
Whincup and Red Bull jumped out of the blocks well but soon came unstuck, with the seven-time series winner falling way off the points tally accumulated by Scott McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen.
He has returned to form in recent rounds - including multiple wins and an outstanding recovery drive to salvage 10th place at Bathurst this month after being reduced to three wheels at one stage - but is still a rank outsider in the title race.
"Building three new cars at the start of the year, everyone was pretty fatigued," Whincup said.
"It was all exciting and we hit the ground running but then we were pretty fatigued so we had a bit of a tired patch.
"In the mid-season break everyone has been able to revive themselves … we've done a heap of changes underneath the car over the last three months especially which has given us a bit more performance."
With the tense battle between heavyweights Red Bull and DJR Team Penske reaching new heights, an arms race has ensued to see the momentum ebb and flow.
Though the drivers are at the centre of the sport, Whincup said it was the behind-the-scenes contest that he cherishes most.
"Unfortunately the battle that goes on, everything behind the scenes, that doesn't really make it to the TV," he said.
"The battle over the weekend does but there is a huge battle going on every day of the week back at base, that's the best bit about the sport. That's motorsport.
"That's what we all thrive off and then we come here on race weekend and try to showcase that work and sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't.
"There is a massive rivalry, massive battle going on in particular between us and the guys next door (DJR Team Penske).
"They'll be throwing everything at it, we'll be throwing everything at it."
"We're not slowing down at all. Not for one second are we like, oh we have got enough performance now."
Paired up with co-driver Paul Dumbrell, Whincup needs an inch-perfect weekend on the Gold Coast to keep his faint championship hopes alive.
"We'll try to get through two 300km gruelling races on the streets of the Gold Coast and after that, we'll then assess," he said.