Triple Eight "deflated" to be beaten in '23, says Jamie Whincup
Whincup fails "fantastic" Erebus after thrilling title fight
Erebus won drivers' and teams' titles for the first time
Jamie Whincup has admitted Triple Eight is “deflated” to be beaten in 2023, but has hailed the efforts of Erebus Motorsport after a tense season-long battle.
Erebus won both the drivers’ and teams’ championship at the VAILO Adelaide 500, with Brodie Kostecki and his team scoring their first titles.
Kostecki clinched the drivers' title on Saturday, with Shane van Gisbergen crashing out on the first lap. It left Triple Eight with a mountain to climb to deny Erebus a title double on Sunday, but another van Gisbergen DNF helped the Coca-Cola-backed team seal the deal.
It ended a dominant title run for Triple Eight, with Shane van Gisbergen winning 35 races in two seasons to lead the team to title doubles in 2021 and 2022.
Triple Eight managed to win both enduros in 2023, Broc Feeney and Whincup winning at Sandown before van Gisbergen and Richie Stanaway dominated at Mount Panorama.
However, Erebus remained a constant at the front, Kostecki winning six races and taking 10 poles to keep his rivals at bay.
The two Chevrolet teams combined to claim 20 of 28 wins, and 16 of 28 pole positions. A fighting Chaz Mostert in Adelaide, coupled with a Will Brown DNF on Sunday, prevented an all-Erebus and Triple Eight top four.
“We’re obviously a bit deflated, for sure,” Whincup said after Sunday’s race.
“We sign up to win championships, and we weren’t able to do that.
“But on behalf of the whole team, we can’t congratulate these guys enough, they did a fantastic job.
"They had the best strategy, had a fast car, and went out there and did the job."
For Whincup, the two teams’ dominant year should only encourage their rivals to come back harder in 2024.
Notably, Tickford Racing and Penrite Racing won the final four races of the season, with Cam Waters winning on the Gold Coast and Adelaide to signal his 2024 title credentials.
Penrite Racing rookie Matt Payne, meanwhile, emulated Feeney’s Adelaide efforts in 2022 to win on Sunday, while Brad Jones Racing finished third in the teams’ championship.
“No doubt there’ll be plenty of teams up and down pit lane that’ll throw everything at both of us next year,” Whincup added.
"That’s a good thing for all, hopefully it’s a three, four, five-team battle rather than two."
Triple Eight will enter 2024 with Feeney and Brown, with Jack Le Brocq replacing Brown alongside Kostecki at Erebus. The new season will commence at the Thrifty Bathurst 500 on February 23-25.