Cam Waters bucked an "embarrassing" trend of Supercars drivers not racing Shane van Gisbergen hard enough at Winton, according to his team boss Tim Edwards.
Waters and Tickford spent the entire Winton SuperSprint weekend locked in a thrilling battle with van Gisbergen and Triple Eight.
It was a battle they ultimately won as well, Waters scoring two victories to van Gisbergen's one as they locked out the top two on all three occasions.
In the case of both of Waters' wins the key was beating van Gisbergen off the line to get track position and then an aggressive defence late in the race when the tyre-friendly T8 car came into its own.
That meant Waters getting his elbows out, the pair trading paint right after their stops in the first race before making serious contact at the very last corner as the Kiwi tried to get past.
They were only separated by four-tenths in Waters' favour as they crossed the line, despite van Gisbergen having broken his left-front steering arm in the clash.
On Sunday van Gisbergen did get the better if Waters in terms of race craft, throwing a dummy on the way to Turn 3 that left Waters stranded mid-track, and allowed the Kiwi to slide down the inside.
However Waters dialled the aggression back up in the finale, not giving a clearly faster van Gisbergen an inch as they fought it out in the closing laps.
According to Tickford boss Edwards it was refreshing to see a driver take the fight to van Gisbergen, rather than quickly crumbling to the reigning champion's passing prowess.
"You watch other blokes and they almost put the indicator on and wave him past. It's actually quite embarrassing," Edwards told Motorsport.com.
"Cam is smart enough, and has the race craft, that he can manage his race. And I think there's a healthy respect between the pair of them.
"That's why you see such good racing, because there is that level of respect."
Waters, known alongside van Gisbergen as two of the harder racers in the field, said an aggressive approach was needed when racing the lead Red Bull car.
"It's frustrating at times when you're in a race and other people just let him through," he told the Castrol Motorsport News podcast. "I feel like they wouldn't do it for me. But that's okay, it is what it is.
"But it's awesome to race Shane. He races you really hard but usually fair.
"I race everyone that hard. Some people sook about it, some accept it and get on with it and give it back. Shane races hard and fair the same way, so it's awesome."
The pair of wins has elevated Waters to third in the standings, right behind Anton De Pasquale, but more than a round's worth of points behind van Gisbergen.
While he admits there is still a deficit in race pace to his Triple Eight rival, as shown by van Gisbergen's comfortable Race 2 win once he cleared the Monster Mustang, Waters is confident the single-lap gap has closed – and says there is more to come.
"I think outright pace we're not [off the pace]. But across a race stint, it's a little bit off," he said. "But if you have track position it's enough.
"There's not a lot in it, but we did things over the weekend and we got the car better over the three races. So we're definitely not out of ideas and we've definitely made steps forwards, which is nice.
"We just need to make sure we take one more step forward."
If they can make that step Waters isn't ruling out a late play for the 2022 title.
"That's the plan. I don't want to hand it to him," he said.
"I'm going to go out there and have a crack and win as many races as I can. We need to have a car that's fast every weekend, at all different circuits. And if we can do that, we'll be able to take it to him."