Jamie Whincup's regret over 'passionate' Pukekohe scandal
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Seven-time Supercars champion Jamie Whincup has issued a statement following his fiery comments made in the second race of last weekend's ITM Auckland SuperSprint at Pukekohe Raceway.
Whincup had been stung by a drive-through pit-lane penalty after making an illegal pass on the safety car, costing him a potential chance at victory. He made the pass believing that the safety car had 'picked up' the wrong driver as race leader, later likening the officials to “people making decisions that are just cruising back, just having a few glasses of red each night, and rocking up to the track and the brain's not with it”.
The drivers who did obey the safety car instruction, headed by Lee Holdsworth, ended up being sent to the back of the grid for the following race restart — despite all being among the leaders prior to the safety car (Holdsworth had been in second place before pitting). Ordinarily, some of the aforementioned drivers would've filed out ahead of those to have pitted during the safety car.
"The moment that screwed the day. No words for how pissed I am," commented Holdsworth on social media — the comment attached to an image of the safety car fracas.
While Whincup stopped short of apologising directly for his comments about officialdom, the 36-year-old acknowledges his position as a role model to the next generation of race drivers, as well as the importance of following direction.
“Now that the heat of the battle has subsided, I’ve had a chance to reflect on Sunday’s race,” he said in the statement. “I without fail give 110 percent in every race and that inevitably leads to passions running high.
“This passion spreads throughout the whole team and we had worked incredibly hard to put ourselves into a great position on Sunday. I have asked myself today though, were my comments post-race helpful? The answer to that is no.
“I’m a big believer in helping people to do their jobs to the best of their ability and that’s what I should have focused on instead of criticising. While I knew I wasn’t the leader of the race, and despite my engineer confidently telling me over the radio to not get held up by the Safety Car, the lights in front of me were orange.
“Every athlete in any sport needs to follow the directions of the officials, whether they feel the correct decision was made or not.
“I recognise I am role model and so the critical point I want to make to all the kids watching is that passing the Safety Car and going against the officials’ decision isn’t how we should play. In hindsight I wish I made a smarter split-second decision.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you that watched Pukekohe on the weekend, both at the track and on TV or online, as it was a cracking weekend of racing that really showed the current strength of our amazing sport.”