Victorian V8 Supercars teams believe Triple Eight Race Engineering used a rival team to secretly collect data for its powerhouse Brisbane outfit in a masterstroke that has ruined the Winton home-track advantage.
Teams that test at Winton Raceway, including Prodrive Racing Australia (PRA) and the Holden Racing Team (HRT), were expected to dominate at the north-east Victorian track this weekend with two track test days allowing them to get an early read on the resurfaced track.
But Triple Eight owner Rolland Dane robbed them of a potentially race winning advantage by sending Jamie Whincup and his engineer into enemy territory last month to drive Lee Holdsworth's Victorian-based car under the guise of helping the satellite team, owned by Charlie Schwerkolt.
Triple Eight is based in Queensland and tests at the Queensland Raceway.
"No we won't have any advantage," said a Triple Eight rival.
"They went down to help out Lee but also collected data for themselves. They (Charlie Schwerkolt Racing) actually handed them the car (Whincup and his engineer David Cauchi) and allowed them to go to Jamie's set-up."
Dane admitted Whincup's trip to Winton was a double barrelled exercise aimed at helping both Triple Eight customer Schwerkolt and his own team, now headed by championship leader Craig Lowndes in the Vortex entry.
"It was helpful for Lee," Dane said.
"But it was also helpful for us. We were able to get a read on the new grip levels of the surface. Absolutely. Don't forget that Prodrive have done it the other way around with DJR (Queensland based team Dick Johnson Racing) in the past. They have driven the DJR car at Queensland Raceway.
"It was mostly to help them (CSR) but it was also for us. It helps us understand what the resurface has done before we get there. It has changed the track and it will be two or three seconds quicker. The whole dynamic of the track has changed and hopefully we have more of an idea than had we not gone down there for the test."
Holdsworth spoke about handing his car over to six-time champion Whincup on Inside Supercars earlier this year.
"We got halfway through the test, and we said to Jamie and Cauchi 'just take the car, half an hour, do what you would to it as if it was yours. Tune it up, and see how you go'," Holdsworth said.
"It was interesting to see the way they work, the different philosophy they had in the car.
"We learnt a lot. I jumped back in the car after they had a play with it, and it felt a little better. It was definitely a gain."