But Dane said the promotion was something he and Dutton had discussed some time ago, and with the vacancy left by Adrian Burgess, the opportunity was there for the popular pit lane personality to step up.
“It’s been my long term plan for quite a few years,” Dane told v8supercars.com.au.
“Mark and I first discussed this a few years ago when he’d been ready to step up, it was just a question of the right doors to open and the opportunity for him to do it… It’s obviously a big thing for him, for Jamie and for the team – but nothing stays the same forever and he’s been engineering Jamie since 2007 so it’s a chance for him to do something new.
“He is happy to move up and then that creates other opportunities around, like David Cauchi to engineer Jamie and at the same time Jeromy Moore (Craig Lowndes’ engineer) moving to the role of chief designer.”
Cauchi, who engineered Dean Fiore for the majority of 2013 and was RBRA’s central data engineer prior to that (the team’s structure has just one data engineer between two cars, currently John McGregor), will work with Whincup this season.
While it will of course be a change for both, Dane would not have given Cauchi the role if he did not feel he was capable.
“Jamie will hopefully get some motivation now from working with David Cauchi who he knows well, and who has grown up at Triple Eight as well.
“He’s a different person, but I wouldn’t put him in that position if I didn’t think he was able – and he has a very good team around him, including Australia’s best driver as well, to help him.”
Whincup, meanwhile, is all for change and described the movements in the team as exciting.
“I’m all for, if you do the same thing year in, year out, you’ll end up getting gobbled up by your opposition,” the 2013 Champion said.
“This is a great change, one that I was all for and one we’d planned towards the end of last year.
“Dutto – who does an unbelievably good job – has good people skills and I couldn’t be happier for him. He deserves it and to be able to step up and have more responsibility, and on the flip side earn a bit more money, I certainly don’t want to hold him back.
“I’m not a senior driver, I’m not a rookie anymore, so if I’m able to be part of helping a new engineer become a race winner, that’s exciting for me.”
Dane has before said sport is cyclical, and understands the need for his team members to grow and develop.
“They’ve been here a long time – Mark and Jeromy since I first came here to Australia and set up Triple Eight – so I’m happy they’re not only still here but able to step up and take on different roles," Dane explained.
“It is part of it, you’ve got to allow people to develop and I’m pleased to be able to do it internally without bringing anyone in from outside.”