Whincup hopes ‘haters’ make themselves heard
Monday 29th November, 2021 - 4:14pm
Jamie Whincup welcomes the prospect of more flack from Ford fans and ‘haters’ at the Repco Bathurst 1000 despite it being his final event as a full-time driver.
Whincup and Red Bull Ampol Racing in general have been lightning rods for barbs from Repco Supercars Championship fans over the years, with their sustained success and the switch from Ford to Holden in 2010 arguably factors in that dynamic.
However, the seven-time drivers’ champion does not want any let-up as he prepares to hang up the helmet and move into the managing director role at Triple Eight Race Engineering next year.
“I certainly hope the beloved Ford fans and the haters out there are still there,” he said.
“That’s what makes Bathurst, Bathurst, you know? You’ve got both sides.
“No, I’ve just been so impressed with the passion about this place. It’s a crazy place, we love coming here racing, and we need both sides, we need the rivalries, we need the passion, so I don’t want that to stop.”
Despite being the equal-seventh most prolific Bathurst 1000 winner, many rival fans have also taken great delight in Whincup’s various Mount Panorama calamities, self-inflicted or otherwise, over almost a decade now.
After winning the Great Race for a fourth time in 2012, he finished a narrow second to Mark Winterbottom the next year.
That was nothing, however, compared to the crazy 2014 Bathurst 1000 when Whincup ran out of fuel and lost the lead as he began the final sector of the final lap.
A year later, he was pinged for passing the Safety Car after ignoring a team instruction to pit, then in 2016 he was first to the chequered flag but officially 11th as a result of the penalty for the incident which triggered the Garth Tander-Scott McLaughlin wipeout.
In 2019, it was a late splash and dash which handed the lead to eventual winner McLaughlin, before Whincup crashed on Lap 33, less than 13 laps after getting into the car, last year.
The 38-year-old hopes a fifth triumph in the Bathurst 1000 finally comes nine years after the fourth, although he maintains he was happy enough just to crack the first one in 2006.
“We’ve had a quick car here and I’ve been in contention a lot of the time,” noted Whincup.
“Of course, this is the hardest race to win and it’s the easiest race to lose, and we’ve had little issues here, there, and everywhere over the years, but we’ve also had some days where it’s gone right and I’ve been able to stand on the top step four times.
“I’m not a greedy person – once would have been enough for me – so to have four to my name is a fantastic feeling.
“But of course, I feel like we’ve got as good an opportunity this weekend as ever – I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think we had a chance – so we’ll do what we can and just try to be there at the end of the six-and-a-half hours.”
Whincup will partner Craig Lowndes, with whom he achieved his first three Bathurst 1000 wins, in the #88 ZB Commodore this weekend.
On-track activity at Mount Panorama starts tomorrow, with the Supercars Championship field’s first practice session on Thursday at 10:00 local time/AEDT.