Relaxed Whincup backs race engineer swap

Thursday 5th November, 2015 - 4:15pm

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Jamie Whincup

Jamie Whincup

Jamie Whincup is confident of a seamless transition back into race engineering duties for David Cauchi this weekend at Pukekohe.

Cauchi returns to the role six events after a Whincup-led bid to rejuvenate a disastrous season saw him stepped aside in favour of Mark Dutton.

Dutton had won five championships alongside Whincup between 2008 and 2013 before being promoted to team manager at the start of last year.

Whincup and Cauchi, who won the 2014 title together, have been reunited ahead of Pukekohe due to team owner Roland Dane’s belief that Dutton is best served in the management role.

Although Whincup’s run of outs continued in the recent Pirtek Enduro Cup, the driver says that the marked increase in speed since Townsville is proof that the mid-season change did its job.

“Although we didn’t get a result, the car speed was much better than what it had been,” Whincup told Speedcafe.com at Pukekohe.

“It needed someone of Dutto’s experience to be able to get the car back in the window. Before Townsville it was a long way off and we needed to be able to pull that back.

“I believe he has done that and that Cauchi has learnt a hell of a lot in those race meetings.

“I’m looking forward to working with him from here on in. I think he’ll do a good job now that the car is somewhere in the window.

“I’d like to think that we’ll be as good a shot as anyone this weekend.”

Whincup concedes that the communication side of his working relationship with Cauchi will need more fine tuning, but downplayed any suggestion that it will impact performance.

“What Dutto and I built over seven years is pretty special and it takes a while to get that with anyone else,” he said.

“It (the communication with Cauchi) is not as good as Dutto, but I think it’s as good as it needs to be. At the end of the day that wasn’t Cauchi’s weakness.”

This year’s final three events will give the team another look at the Whincup/Cauchi partnership before decisions on its 2016 engineering structure are made.

Whincup is for the first time in nine seasons entering the final stretch of races without the pressure of having the championship on the line.

Ending up first or second in the standings on each occasion since 2007, the 32-year-old currently runs a distant eighth.

“It’s quite relaxing not having the stresses of a championship lingering over my head,” he said.

“In some ways it feels like a luxury. There’s still pressure to perform, but it’s different, for sure.”

Whincup says he will assist Craig Lowndes’ title bid if he can, but is quick to draw a distinction between intra-team play and hampering the efforts of competitors.

“If I can help out Lowndsey at no one else’s expense then I will, but I’m not going to get involved with anyone else,” he said.

“There was a bit of a myth that I purposely held the field up for Craig at Bathurst (after the final restart), but that’s a complete myth.

“I was a second back at the end of the lap because Lowndsey was on fire and I was coming in. If I was driving that slow Davey (Reynolds) would have passed me.

“My brand is hard and fair and I want to keep it that way.”