A deal to race Triple Eight’s spare chassis in the Dunlop Super2 Series has locked in Paul Dumbrell’s place alongside Jamie Whincup for this year’s Pirtek Enduro Cup.
Confirmation of the Whincup/Dumbrell partnership was notably absent from the Red Bull Holden Racing Team’s announcement in January that it had signed Matt Campbell to join Shane van Gisbergen in its #97 entry.
While Dumbrell was always expected to continue in the seat, the 34-year-old says that doubt had remained over his position until a recent deal between Triple Eight, of which he is a minority shareholder, and Eggleston Motor Sport to return to Super2 was locked in.
“Roland (Dane, Triple Eight owner) and I had a very frank conversation in 2013 that unless I was driving in the DVS (Super2) I wouldn’t be driving with Jamie, which was a point that we both felt strongly about,” Dumbrell told Supercars.com.
“Last year there were good intentions about matching the performance of the old cars and the new cars in that series (Super2), but the results show that didn’t play out and I decided that I wasn’t going to do that again.
“There was an issue with (Next Generation) car availability because Eggleston already had two drivers locked in for its two cars, but what we’re doing is using Triple Eight’s spare car for the first period of the year until they get another one built up.
“We had some conversations about it (using the spare chassis) late last year, but it’s only come together in the last couple of weeks. It’s been very, very late.
“I’d not had any discussion with any other team about doing Super2. It was this deal or not at all.”
The deal will see Dumbrell's car run alongside Eggleston's entries for rookies Will Brown and Nathan Morcom, who have graduated to Next Generation Triple Eight Supercars from Formula 4 and Australian GT respectively.
Dumbrell finished just seventh in the Super2 standings last year after struggling against the Next Generation chassis and missing the final round with a shoulder injury.
The injury, which was sustained when slipping over on a boat during Whincup’s buck’s party late last year, continues to trouble Dumbrell ahead of next week’s Super2 season opener in Adelaide.
He has not driven a race car since his win in the second leg of the Gold Coast 600 alongside Whincup in October and will require final medical sign-off on Monday in order to hit the track just three days later.
“Thankfully the races are only half an hour,” said Dumbrell, who had to cancel his own buck’s party last year in order to undergo surgery.
“I’ve got zero strength in my shoulder, but I’m getting the movement back and I can’t see why I won’t (receive the sign-off).”
Regardless of the injury, Dumbrell said it was the first time he went into January not knowing whether he’d continue racing since 2012, where he’d decided to retire after the glory of winning Bathurst only to be talked out of it by Whincup and Dane.
Five years later, Dumbrell continues to balance racing with his business commitments and says he’s highly motivated to help his mate wrestle back the Supercars title after two years of disappointment.
Whincup’s championship charge fell apart in the Pirtek Enduro Cup last year, notably due to a pitstop infringement from Dumbrell at Sandown and then a late-race incident involving Whincup that saw the pair denied victory at Bathurst.
“The last three or four years it’s taken longer and longer to get over the endurance races,” admitted Dumbrell.
“We’ve had the highest of highs and lowest of lows.
“It would have been disappointing to finish on that note after what happened to us across those races last year.
“Going there this year the motivation is, as always, to help Jamie win the championship.
“I don’t judge the success of my campaign on wins or losses, it’s about helping Jamie get more points than anyone else.”