It’s his worst form slump for almost a decade and V8 Supercars champion Jamie Whincup is still searching for a way out of the mire.
Whincup’s hopes of making a statement of intent in Friday’s practice for this weekend’s Townsville 400 have instead ended in further frustration for the six-time title winner.
The Holden ace failed to crack the top 10 in any of the three half-hour sessions, ending the day with the 18th-best time of one minute and 13.8555 seconds.
After slipping to eighth on the championship standings after a run of nine races without a win, Red Bull Racing team manager Mark Dutton has stepped back into his former role as Whincup’s race engineer for the Townsville meeting.
He was the man by Whincup’s side throughout his dominant era and it’s hoped a reformation of that partnership will bring about a reversal in fortune.
But despite some early promise, Whincup was again frustrated at the end of Friday’s sessions.
“We worked pretty hard coming in to Townsville to get a good balance and we were well on track,” Whincup said.
“There was so much positive out of the final run and I was amped to get the new tyres on at the end to see what we could do.
“Unfortunately when we did it was a bit of an anti-climax and we just didn’t bump up the timesheet as much as we would have hoped.”
Whincup is hoping a final practice run on Saturday morning ahead of qualifying for the afternoon’s 200km race will finally spark his championship back into life.
“If the car is quick we can do things and we can be aggressive with the strategy and I can race hard,” he said.
“At the moment we’re on the back foot so we want to get on the attack and that all comes from good car speed.
“We’re working seriously hard, but unfortunately the times didn’t show it today. We’ll get there eventually.”