“After we got to the point around three-quarters of the race, we could go all out and try to catch these guys,” he said, “I had a very good race car, but it just kept getting stronger and stronger through the race, although we were line ball at the end with the fuel.”
And there we no excuses from Whincup who, despite losing the unbeaten record he brought back from Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, retains a commanding championship lead.
“We found ourselves really low on fuel towards the end of the race, so we took the smart option to finish fourth rather than making another stop like [team-mate] Craig [Lowndes],” the double champion revealed, “Overall, it's important to stay positive, we put up a great fight today and it is what you do on the tough days that helps build a strong team.”
Pure bad luck ended a fantastic run by SP Tools Racing's Shane van Gisbergen ended any chance of a podium, just as the young New Zealander had shifted into third place on the track but with one less pit-stop than those around them. Any strategy was thrown out the window when he shaved a little too much from a tyre bundle, smashing a pin in his front suspension and leaving the left-hand tyre falling off the axle. The subsequent repairs shifted him back to an unrepresentative 23rd.
After a relatively tame start by Adelaide standards, it took a safety car intervention - when Wilson Security Racing's Tim Slade smashed into the turn eight wall - to spice the action up. With the field bunched back together, the race exploded, with passing everywhere and some inevitable carnage. The worst of the mayhem cost Orrcon Steel's Mark Winterbottom his race when he became wedged between Jim Beam Racing's Steven Johnson and TeamVodafone's Lowndes.
Lowndes also spun Tander's team-mate Will Davison, which caused a concertina pile-up. Johnson inadvertently shoved Winterbottom into the back of Lowndes, suffering severe rear end damage. Winterbottom was swamped by the field and ultimately had to come in.
Earlier, Whincup secured his third straight Armor All Pole Position in Adelaide and fourth of the year, having reigned supreme after a tense qualifying session to decide the Armor All Top Ten Shootout.
The field gets a chance to reset tomorrow with a stand alone 20-minute qualifying session followed by race two.