This weekend’s Bathurst 1000 will be Jamie Whincup’s last hurrah as a Supercars driver, drawing to a close one of the most successful careers in the sport.
- Whincup has claimed a record seven Supercar championships
- He has won four Bathurst 1000 races during his career
- Whincup says he is confident about his chances of victory in Bathurst on Sunday
The 38-year-old has earned legend status in Supercars, having claimed a record seven championships, four Bathurst 1000 victories and 124 race wins.
Whincup said he was confident he could conquer the Bathurst 1000’s treacherous Mount Panorama Circuit one more time on Sunday.
“This weekend we’ve got as good an opportunity as ever,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have a chance [to win]. We’ve just got to be there at the end of six-and-a-half hours.
“It’ll be the same ‘win it or bin it Jamie’ that you’ve seen over the last 10 years.
Whincup is in a league of his own, sitting ahead of five-time Supercars/Australian Touring Car championship winners Mark Skaife, Dick Johnson and Ian Geoghegan.
His title victories came in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 — the year he claimed the all-time pole position award and a record-breaking sixth championship win — and most recently in 2017.
“When I made the decision I wanted to retire, I wanted to make sure I finished at my peak and my most competitive,” Whincup said.
“Sydney Motorsport Park showed that and the same goes for this weekend. We are going to fight it out and I won’t be handing it over to anyone.”
Whincup embracing the ‘haters’
During his almost two decades in Supercars, Whincup has not attracted the praise or cult-like worship that some of his competitors have enjoyed, such as Skaife, Craig Lowndes or Peter Brock.
That could come down to the fact that he has won championships in both a Ford and a Holden, in addition to his brash and uncompromising style on the track.
Either way, Whincup relished the hostility and said he hoped he copped as much heat in his farewell race as he had during his accomplished career.
“I love the passion of this place (Mount Panorama), it’s a crazy place and we love to come here racing,” he said.
“We need both sides, the rivalry and the passion. I don’t want that to stop.
“I certainly hope the beloved Ford fans and the haters are still there, that’s what makes Bathurst Bathurst.”
Whether you’re a fan or not, Whincup has to be appreciated for his achievements and unyielding approach to racing.
“I don’t regret anything, anyone can put on their captain hindsight hat,” he said.
“But standing here right now I feel it is time [to retire] and I am looking forward to my last event.”
A lifelong dedication
As a seven-year-old, Whincup test drove his first go-kart In 1991, before notching up junior and rookie titles as a teenager.
He won the Senior Formula A Kart Series at age 15 and the Australian Formula Ford Championship as a 19-year-old.
Whincup’s Supercars debut came in 2002 and he graduated to become a full-time driver the following year, but was dumped a short time later.
When he was given a career lifeline by Tasman Motorsport in 2005, he was not going to let this opportunity slide and he finished on the podium at the Sandown 500 and the Bathurst 1000.
Those successes caught the attention of Triple Eight Race Engineering and the rest is history.
Racing on the Mount Panorama circuit is the ideal send-off for Whincup.
“I normally like to keep it low key at the start of Bathurst week,” he said.
“But I am just blown away by how much effort the team has put into my last week. They’re making it very special for me, I’m proud as punch.
“Win, lose or draw, I am going to try and enjoy it as much as I can. I feel very privileged.
While Whincup is stepping out of the full-time driver seat, he is not saying goodbye to the sport.
The 38-year-old is joining Triple Eight’s team management.
“I am looking forward to what I call chapter three [of my career], which is going to be just as exciting as chapter two,” he said.
For the first time in history Bathurst 1000 will conclude this year’s Supercars championship, after Covid-19 forced changes to the original schedule.