On This Day: Triple Eight's 1-2 Holden debut

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 19/02/2020
  • By Will Dale, V8 Sleuth

February 19, 2020 marks 10 years since one of the proudest days in Triple Eight Race Engineering's decorated history.

The date marked the squad's first race as a Holden team, celebrating the occasion by not only taking pole position and the race victory but doing so with an emphatic team 1-2.

The 2010 V8 Supercars Championship kicked off overseas, the YAS V8 400 in Abu Dhabi the first of two flyaway events in the Middle East to start the season.

The event marked the end of an 18-month saga that began in mid-2008, when Ford pared back its factory support to just two Supercars teams – neither of which was Triple Eight, which had just led the design and development of the new FG Falcon racecar.

"They waited until that was done and delivered before they told us – two weeks later – they were not renewing our contract for 2009," Dane later said in a book on the team's decade in Supercars.

"I think they owed us more than that and that’s why I was annoyed at the time."

That annoyance led to Triple Eight's Falcons racing throughout 2009 with a 'Hogster' badge instead of the traditional 'Blue Oval', and with a deal to cross the floor.

Holden had wasted no time opening talks with the Brisbane-based squad once the Ford news was out, and a deal for the 2010 season was confirmed on the eve of the 2008 Sandown 500.

In between Jamie Whincup claimed both the 2008 and 2009 Supercars Drivers' Championships, but he would pursue a third aboard a brand-new Holden Commodore VE, the team having a busy off-season building up new cars for he and Craig Lowndes.

Any doubts that the Holden switch would put the team on the back foot were wiped away in Abu Dhabi.

Whincup took pole position for the inaugural race at Yas Marina and, despite being jumped on the start by Mark Winterbottom, he soon regained the lead and won as he pleased.

"It is an amazing result," Whincup said at the time. "To debut a new car on a new circuit, qualify on pole and get a one-two will be a day both the team and I will remember for a long time.

"There was a huge question mark over the cars heading into this event but we have come out strong and you can't ask for anymore.

"That is as good as it gets today."

Ramming the point home was Lowndes in second place, using an alternate pit strategy to recover from a Top 10 Shootout mistake that consigned him to 10th on the grid to tail his teammate across the line.

“When you consider the work the guys put in at the workshop over Christmas to build these cars a one-two is the best way for us drivers to show our appreciation for all of their hard work," he said.

Dane was no less effusive, telling Motorsport eNews at the time: "For me, this is an achievement that ranks right up there with winning Bathurst, to be honest, in terms of industry recognition."

The victorious start set the tone for the decade that followed.

In a remarkable numerical coincidence, the Triple Eight-Holden partnership now spans 144 championship round starts and netted 144 championship race wins, including four Bathurst 1000 victories.

It has also claimed six drivers' championships, and eight out of the 10 team's championships between 2010 and 2019 aboard Holden machinery.

In 2017 Triple Eight became the sole factory-backed Holden team in the Supercars Championship, a position it still holds in the wake of General Motors' announcement this week that it will retire the iconic Australian brand at the end of 2020.

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