Jamie Whincup stands by his comment that he shouldn’t be leading the Championship heading into this weekend’s Wilson Security Sandown 500.
The Red Bull Racing Australia driver told v8supercars.com.au his words were not said out of emotion or frustration, but reflect his feelings coming into the first of the endurance races.
“Everything I said back then is what I felt then, and is what I still feel now, so I’ve got some work to do,” Whincup said.
Rather than pump himself up and say he’d turn it all around this weekend, he was cautious.
“I’m realistic – I’m absolutely realistic and realise things don’t just turn around overnight.
“Let’s not blow it out of proportion – we’re leading the Championship, which means we’ve done a lot of good things this year. It’s not quite to our standard, but we operate on a fairly high level, we definitely want to improve come the end of the year and hopefully this weekend we can improve.”
He isn’t worried about the Championship points lead, despite his gap whittling down to just 55 points. It’s all about speed.
“The points lead takes care of itself, that’s not really a focus for us,” he said.
“The real focus is on improving our car speed, which wasn’t quite there Sunday at Winton.
“Who knows what the weekend’s going to bring, but if we can improve our car speed that’s our main goal.”
Whincup is debuting a new Holden Commodore today and admitted some testing would need to be done over the weekend, though he is comfortable running the new car.
It has completed 10 laps at a recent shakedown, as it was not finished in time for the team’s test day at Queensland Raceway earlier this month.
“We just recently built a brand new car as a spare – (we didn’t) have a proper spare. So that car was scheduled to be completed as soon as it possibly could be.”
His previous car, which had contested the first nine Championship events of 2013, will now be the team’s spare.
It will not be the Triple Eight-built Commodore branded as the Xbox One wildcard entry at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 next month – that is Triple Eight’s first complete Car of the Future, the team’s current ride car.
“It would’ve been great to test the new car, but it wasn’t quite ready.
“The new car is exactly the same as the old car, it didn’t really matter which car we ran in the test day.
“I was happy with the last car, but this new car, we gave it a 10-lap shakedown to make sure electronically and physically it was all good.
“It did well … there’s still a little question mark, and still a little bit of testing to do this weekend, but all in all, it’s still a Triple Eight car.”
He doesn’t seem to be approaching the event full of confidence – however, Whincup said he was unprepared off-shore in Texas and ended up winning three of the four races there. Whincup also expressed how difficult it could be racing at the team’s test track, but at Queensland Raceway he also managed to win a race.
One thing Whincup does have confidence in his co-driver Paul Dumbrell, whom he drove with to victory at last year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
“You’ve got to have a lot of trust in your co-driver – which I do.
“I’ve been lucky all my co-drivers have been good mates. When someone’s your mate you can generally trust them more than someone who’s there to do a job.
“I’ve got full faith in PD that he can do a good job. I’m never nervous at all, never worried he’s going to bend up my car.
“I don’t see it as my car, although I drive the car all through my Championship, it’s not my car, and it’s not Paul’s either. We’re sharing.
“I’m not going to get angry at him, I just want him to go out and do his best.”
Whincup leads Davison by 55 points, Pepsi Max FPR’s Mark Winterbottom by 70, teammate Craig Lowndes by 72 and Lockwood Racing’s Fabian Coulthard by 138. Click here for full Championship points, and here for the driver pairings.
Just 300 points – the allocation for one race win – separates the top nine drivers and the past nine races have seen different winners.
The Wilson Security Sandown 500 begins today, click here to see the various ways to keep up with the race action.