Jamie Whincup has dedicated his win in the 2020 Supercars Championship opener to the Holden staff and dealers who found out this week that the marque will soon be no more.
General Motors announced on Monday that it will cease sales and ‘retire’ Holden by the end of the year, after more than 160 years of history that began with a saddlery less than one kilometre from the Adelaide Parklands Circuit.
The news has rocked Supercars, with Craig Lowndes describing himself as ‘devastated’, Mark Skaife admitting to trying to fight back tears, and Greg Murphy initially thinking that it was a joke.
Five days after the decision was made public, Whincup drove his factory-backed Red Bull Holden Racing Team entry to a thorough victory in Race 1 of the season at the Superloop Adelaide 500.
“If the win was going to be dedicated to anyone it’s certainly the staff at Holden head office and all the dealers and salesman and everything like that,” said Whincup.
“Hopefully it’s brought them a little bit of delight to have the Lion win the first race of the year.”
His team-mate Shane van Gisbergen claimed third, meaning both factory ZB Commodores finished on the podium in Holden’s home town.
“It’s been an interesting week,” said the New Zealander.
“As I said the other day. I really would have loved for it to be a one-two.
“I had the car to get there but couldn’t quite do it, but nice for us to start in the right way for the team and Holden.
“Hopefully puts a smile on a few faces there and try and do the same tomorrow.”
Whincup was effectively in control for the duration of the 78-lap race despite trailing eventual runner-up Scott McLaughlin during the middle stint and took the chequered flag 5.2378s to the good.
The seven-time champion attributed his record-extending 119th Virgin Australia Supercars Championship race win to achieving pole position after a highly impressive showing in the Top 10 Shootout earlier in the day.
“It was all go from the start,” recounted Whincup.
“I don’t think we were any quicker than anybody else, well certainly not the top few cars, but we just had track position from qualifying well.
“Strategy was good, I didn’t follow any cars so I can’t comment on that, but very nice to get the first win of the year.”
Whincup’s win gives him the early lead in the drivers’ championship, by 12 points over McLaughlin, while Red Bull HRT/Triple Eight Race Engineering heads the teams’ championship.
Qualifying for Race 2 starts tomorrow at 11:50 local time/12:20 AEDT.