Whincup qualifying switch ‘the right decision’

Jamie Whincup qualified Car #88 in 14th place

Jamie Whincup and co-driver Broc Feeney have stood by the decision to switch drivers ahead of Friday afternoon’s Bathurst qualifying.

The rain-affected session saw four-time Great Race winner Whincup qualify Car #88 in 14th place to miss the Top 10 Shootout with 19-year-old Feeney benched for the session.

“It completely wasn’t my decision. It was the engineers’ decision – they said mate, you’re in for qualifying, so I do what they say, put my suit on and in I went,” Whincup told Speedcafe.com.

With Triple Eight’s #97 Shane van Gisbergen/Garth Tander entry making the shootout but given a three-place grid penalty after a collision with Brad Jones Racing’s Macauley Jones, the two Red Bulls will start – at best – fourth and 14th with its wildcard entry of Craig Lowndes/Declan Fraser in 16th.

“It started off strong, but then as the session went on we slowly sort of went backwards, backwards, backward in relative pace to the rest of the field,” said Whincup.

“So all in all disappointing not to be in the 10 when we were well and truly in the 10 for most of the session.

“Looking through it, strategy probably wasn’t perfect, and I was still committed to wet, very wet lines, and probably should have adjusted my driving towards the end of that run as well – so they were the two factors to why we were not in the 10 unfortunately.”

Despite the disappointment, there were no regrets about having Whincup qualifying the #88 Red Bull entry.

“Broc was comfortable with that for sure,” said Whincup. “We try to get the best result for the team, so as I said, the last thing I want is people thinking I pulled rank and said, ‘I’m in for qualifying’; that certainly wasn’t the case.

“I’m here as a co-driver, I’m here to support Broc and the team, but the decision from Dutto [Team Manager Mark Dutton] and the engineers was for me to qualify, so I put my helmet on and got in the car.”

“I employ these guys to do their job, and I respect their job – I let them do the engineering and they let me do the driving. That’s the best way to do it.”

Feeney backed the decision for Whincup to qualify the car.

“It was the right decision to put him in the car, because he’s got more experienced in those conditions and faster, so a pretty easy choice to put him in,” Feeney said.

“We haven’t had too many sessions in the dry, but we’ve been there or thereabouts – it’s just building confidence yeah, it’s only Friday – still a long way to go.”

“I have no doubt I can do it, it’s just the building of confidence. I’m just taking my time in that session to build up – J-Dub gets in and goes straight to the top, so yeah, it was a pretty simple decision for qualy.”

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