What was he thinking?
A devastated Jamie Whincup has tried to answer the glaring question that emerged in the aftermath of a Bathurst 1000 campaign that may have killed off his V8 Supercars title defence.
Whincup quickly became the butt of cruel social media jokes after ignoring team orders while in Great Race contention then bombing out – for the second straight year.
Even Holden rival Garth Tander couldn’t resist when Whincup’s teammate Craig Lowndes was asked post-race how their Red Bull boss Roland Dane would deal with the debacle.
“Refer to last year’s notes?” Tander interjected.
Yet the ramifications of six-time V8 series champ Whincup’s latest Mount Panorama howler are deadly serious.
Whincup’s V8 title defence appears in tatters after he ignored team orders during a fateful fourth safety car period following Ford driver Scott Pye’s nasty crash on top of the mountain.
Instead of pitting as asked, four-time Bathurst champ Whincup stayed out on the track and inexplicably overtook the safety car.
The second-placed Whincup was sensationally dropped to the back of the Bathurst field with 20 laps left as a penalty.
He finished 18th, relegating him to eighth overall in the drivers standings with four rounds left.
Remarkably, 12 months earlier at Mount Panorama, Whincup brushed team pleas to conserve fuel and ran out of petrol on the final lap while leading.
Whincup still insists the safety car gave him the green light to pass on Sunday, but admitted he should not still have been out on the track.
“It’s my mistake. Normally I get a ‘safety car, pit this lap’ call (on the team radio) but … I just got ‘pit this lap’,” Whincup told reporters.
“I didn’t want to queue up behind Lowndesy (in the pits) and when I came up the hill, I saw the green light (on safety car) and thought ‘happy days’ and went straight past.”
But Whincup added: “I am just kicking myself.
“I shouldn’t have thought about it (team orders).
“But I was just trying to do the right thing.”
Bathurst 1000 winner Lowndes revealed Dane would have been too livid to speak to Whincup on Sunday night.
“He won’t deal with it right now,” Lowndes said of Dane’s reaction to Whincup’s latest gaffe.
“He will deal with it when we get home and he won’t be pleased.
“He will have to have a good reason why he did that.”
In keeping with Whincup’s lousy Bathurst campaign, he led by more than 30 seconds but dramatically lost it during a lengthy pit stop on lap 106 to address a throttle drama.
Whincup tried to put on a brave face after watching teammate Lowndes seal a sixth Bathurst crown.
“I want to be happy for the team … but I’m really gutted,” he said.