Whincup bows out of Supercar legend
Jamie Whincup’s normal low-profile preparation for the Bathurst 1000 failed.
This year’s Big Race promises to be special in many ways, but the Supercar legend rightly takes center stage.
Even with large crowds returning to Panorama Mountain after last year’s event was badly affected by COVID-19, Whincup’s farewell is the most costly item.
After being honored by his Triple Eight team with an aviation exhibit, the 38-year-old was presented with a personalized beanie with the inscription #CheersJDub.
It was just the first two days after arriving in the regional town of NSW.
“Normally I like to keep a low profile at the start of the Bathurst week, but I don’t think I’m lucky this year,” said the Red Bull Ampol rider.
“I was blown away by the effort the team put into my last event, they made it very special.”
As Australia’s most decorated passenger car driver, Whincup has nothing more to accomplish.
But a final Bathurst 1000 crown – a fifth, and the first since 2012 – would be nice.
“We had a fast car and were in the running, but it’s the hardest race to win and the easiest to lose,” said Whincup.
“We’ve had a few issues here over the years, but we’ve also had days where everything has gone well.
“I was able to climb the top step four times.
“I’m not a greedy person, once was enough for me, but having four in my name is a fantastic feeling.
“I think we have as good an opportunity as any to try to be there at the end of the six and a half hour.
“I hope you’ll see an aggressive Jamie win or throw Jamie over the past 10 years.
“I certainly don’t want to be left in the middle of the pack.”
Seven-time champion and 124-race winner Whincup will team up with compatriot Craig Lowndes for his final Bathurst 1000 as a full-time driver on Sunday
The duo won three back-to-back Mount Panorama titles between 2006 and 2008, the first being the emotional triumph Lowndes dedicated to Peter Brock, who tragically passed a few weeks earlier.
Lowndes has a recent memory of what it was like to prepare for one last Bathurst 1000 as a full time pilot.
In 2018, Lowndes won his seventh big race when he faced Steven Richards.
“I want to do my part in this process, which is to support Jamie,” Lowndes said.
“He can focus on a qualifying car, a top 10 car, and I can focus on a race car.
“Our ability to work together has shown in the past that it works very well.
“You don’t want a fast car at the start, but you really want a fast car at the end.”
Whincup will directly become the new boss of Triple Eight, succeeding conqueror Roland Dane before next season.
Whincup could be just as formidable off the track, but Lowndes is confident his driving exploits will not be forgotten anytime soon.
“He’s the greatest of all time in this current era, there’s no question about it,” Lowndes said.
“There was no doubt that he was going to be successful and the championships he was able to accumulate were a tribute to his attitude and dedication to the category.
“When I got my 100th victory at Darwin I thought it was good, no one is going to get it, but he was a thorn in my side and he overshadowed him.
“People in history will remember and marvel at what Jamie was able to accomplish.”