Hard fought 12 Hour win vindication for Whincup

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 06/02/2017
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

Jamie Whincup's refusal to change his all-or-nothing approach to final stints at Mount Panorama finally paid off in the Bathurst 12 Hour.

The success alongside Craig Lowndes and Finn Toni Vilander in the GT event followed a succession of controversial finishes for Whincup at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

The 34-year-old received widespread public condemnation for being overly aggressive and defying team orders in final stints at Supercars' October classic over the last three years.

On his first appearance in GT racing, however, there was to be no late heartbreak for Whincup, who came out on top in a thrilling dice with Supercars team-mate Shane van Gisbergen.

Whincup’s pass for the win on Conrod 40 minutes from the finish saw the cars make side-to-side contact at over 250km/h, nudging the right-side wheels of the Ferrari into the grass.

The intense battle this time ended disastrously for Van Gisbergen, who in his pursuit of Whincup clashed with a slower car before crashing on his own a short time later.

“I’m proud that I haven’t changed the way I drive,” Whincup told Supercars.com of overcoming his final-stint Bathurst hoodoo.

“It would have been very easy to let public opinion change the way I go about my racing.

“I promised myself never to do that and once again I was battling it out at the end there.

“Gizzy and I were bashing panels, in the grass… and I hammered into a Porsche over the top on the last lap.

“It could have easily turned pear shaped again but there’s no way I’m going to change anything.”

Whincup, whose sole racing focus has been Supercars since 2003, declared after yesterday’s race that he’ll “certainly be back” to the 12 Hour next year.

“I’d just been waiting for the right opportunity and Triple Eight teaming up with Maranello Motorsport, I felt it was the right opportunity,” he said.

“We didn’t have a good test (in January, where the car suffered gearbox issues) and it was certainly looking like it was going to be a tough weekend but we turned it around.The car was bullet-proof.

“It’s really good to drive with the Europeans. They know the cars and they’re proper fast, so it’s a massive challenge to step up and be better yourself.

“It’s actually refreshing to get out of your comfort zone. We do the same thing week in, week out, but we were massively out of our comfort zone here.

“The way they go about racing is so different, it’s good to keep your brain fresh to learn how to do it.”

Whincup downplayed the prospect of racing GT cars overseas, however, stressing his allegiance to Supercars and a lack of spare time through the season.

“I’ve enjoyed the experience, but Supercar racing, that type of racing is me,” he said.

“Everyone in the same thing, the human element of it coming down to who does the best job on the day.

“This is fantastic and the feeling across the line was fantastic, but I certainly won’t be going away from what I normally do to do more GT racing.

“Shane does twice as much racing as me, he does a heap of GT stuff, but I’ve got plenty of other stuff going on outside of motorsport that doesn’t allow for me to do any more.”

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