Whincup: The Bend's ultra-technical and unique

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 19/08/2018
  • By Mitchell Adam

Seven-time champion Jamie Whincup says South Australia's new Tailem Bend circuit, hosting its maiden Supercars event next weekend, is "ultra-technical" and full of "unique" corners.

The Bend became Australia's first new permanent circuit since Queensland Raceway in 1999 when it opened earlier this year.

Whincup is an ambassador for the $110 million, Shahin-family owned facility and turned a handful of laps in a Mercedes GT3 car in April, before its first full race meeting.

Supercars will use a 4.9km layout for the maiden OTR SuperSprint, and Whincup believes it will take time to get up to speed.

"I did four or five laps and I still didn't know where I was going, even on the last lap," Whincup told Supercars.com of his experience earlier this year.

"I normally pick up tracks very quickly but this one's ultra-technical. It's going to take a good couple of practice sessions to really get a good feel for the track.

"Nothing's really similar to any other corner in the country. They've done a great job with bringing new corners into the design of the circuit and it had a fantastic flow.

"The corners are unique, like no other, which is good. It's going to be a challenge for all of the drivers to work out the best way to go around each corner."

Four Supercars drivers raced at the circuit's Shannons Nationals event in April, with more getting an early taste on Thursday during a support-category test including V8 Touring Cars.

The Bend will become the 23rd circuit Whincup has raced a Supercar at, since making his debut in the 2002 enduros with Garry Rogers Motorsport.

He won the Sunday race and the 2017 title at the most-recent new venue, Newcastle's street circuit last November, and has a strong record in first-up events.

"It's great," Whincup said of learning another new circuit.

"Even [Sydney Motorsport Park] was fantastic, driving in the dark. I've done a few night races but never driven in the dark like we did there.

"That was a good challenge, something fresh and like a brand-new circuit as well.

"It's a great part about our sport, unlike being a swimmer or a track-and-field athlete, we can mix it up a fair bit and it's one of the pluses of our sport."

Whincup will follow the OTR SuperSprint with another new circuit, Laguna Seca in the USA for his WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut in early September.

Iconic Commodore staying still

A pair of key Supercars from Whincup's Triple Eight career have been on display at the new circuit's hotel foyer in recent months.

One is the Betta Electrical Falcon Whincup and Craig Lowndes took to victory at Bathurst in 2006, Whincup's maiden Great Race victory - that Ford still owned by Roland Dane.

Whincup owns the other, his 2010-'12 TeamVodafone Commodore dubbed Kate, but has no plans to take the Holden out on track.

"That car hasn't turned a wheel," Whincup said. "It's been on display [at Tailem Bend] since the Adelaide 500.

"It's got brand new tyres and brakes, rims, the whole lot, I'm avoiding driving it at this stage."

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