May the best mate win

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Monday 2nd November, 2009 - 4:10pm

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Jamie Whincup and Will Davison will fight out the V8 Championship this year

Jamie Whincup and Will Davison will fight out the V8 Championship this year

Hmmm, so V8 Supercar championship leader Jamie Whincup has decided to withdraw from the chance of a lifetime to complete against the likes of Michael Schumacher at the Race of Champions.

One word springs to mind – Pressure.

And there’s no doubt J-Dub is feeling it.

But I totally understand his logic this week. He’s watched his championship lead whittle away from a seemingly uncatchable position to one where he’s only 32 points clear of Will Davison heading to Phillip Island again.

And he’s really only got himself to blame for his latest loss of points, costing himself a bag of them by crashing in Leg 1 of Race 20 last Sunday on the Gold Coast.

Knowing how Whincup works, he’s made the right call not to go.

He’s stung by his mistake on the Gold Coast – but it may be the mistake that makes him champion again.

It could be the sting in the tail he needed to kick on and come home strongly in a championship fight that we all thought was a done deal in the middle of the year.

History shows that Whincup fights back brilliantly from bad events and his own mistakes. When he’s fired up and keen to bounce back, his rivals are in for a tough time.

When he gave away the win at Phillip Island to Garth Tander last year, you could have not seen a more crest-fallen racer.

But he went away, sucked up how bad it felt and it propelled him onwards to win Bathurst for the third straight year.

But I have to say, this Whincup v Davison championship fight is great stuff.

It’s the two top teams with the two young guys who have always been standouts during their junior careers.

They’ve been mates since their karting days but time and circumstance now mean that they simply can never be as close as they once were in their youth.

Whincup’s had more limelight for the past few years as Davison spent his time learning the V8 ropes and helping Jim Beam Racing rise back up through the ranks.

But now Davo has well and truly arrived and the weekend where he won his first race in red at Sandown is the one I reckon has been the biggest turning point in the championship.

By Whincup’s admission, the announcement during race week of Triple Eight heading to Holden in 2010 had been a distraction. But it looked and felt that weekend that Davison had finally unlocked that last little bit from the #22 bus.

And ever since then he has done nothing but mow down Whincup’s title lead.

I’m a big believer in NASCAR’s Chase format and, without Davison’s strong run over the last five or six events, we’d be needing it in V8 Supercars to liven up the title fight.

But it looks as though we don’t need it this year in terms of having an epic run to Race 26 at Sydney Olympic Park.

May the best mate win.

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