Whincup sees beauty in Mt Panorama
JAMIE Whincup has driven on the best race tracks Australia and New Zealand have to offer – not to mention circuits in America, Asia and the Middle East – but has no hesitation in naming Mt Panorama one of the world’s top three.
Whincup, a four-time Bathurst winner at the Mt Panorama circuit and five-time winner of Australia’s V8 Supercars Championship, says the 6.213km street circuit at Bathurst HOLDEN RIVALS: Mates Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes will go head to head at Bathurst this Sunday. Lowndes has five wins and Whincup four on the mountain. holds a special place in his heart.
“It’s in the top three in the world,” he said.
“The terrain just blows you away. At the top of the mountain you’re doing over 200kmh – it feels like you’re floating over the hills.
“You’re going through four gears over the hill and it’s like you’re driving into the skyline, then flying down the hill again ... it’s incredible.”
The history of the event also appeals to Whincup, and the flat-out adrenaline over each of the six hours of racing.
“It’s motorsport’s version of the Melbourne Cup,” he said.
“It’s hosted races since the 1960s and the intensity is incredible – you’re going flat out the whole way.”
The 31-year-old admitted it was a strange feeling having to back up for three more races after the mountain classic, to
Bathurst is like our grand final – it’s the one everyone wants to win.
round out a gruelling season.
“Bathurst is like our grand final – it’s the one everyone wants to win,” he said.
“In an ideal world this is the race we’d finish our season at, but we don’t stop until early December.”
Whincup has some confidence he can add another Mt Panorama crown to his resume, but the champion driver is not shouting it from the rooftops.
“I wouldn’t say I’m overly confident – midway through this year we went through a bit of a slump,” he said.
“We were 200 points off the pace, but I was proud to pull myself out of that.
“We worked very hard to do that and we need to continue working hard over this business end of the season.”
Working just as hard alongside Whincup will be his co-driver Paul Dumbrell.
The two combined to win last month’s Sandown 500, the first race of the V8 Championship’s Enduro Cup competition.
Asked what made Dumbrell a good co-driver, Whincup said: “Above all else, we’re mates.”
Another mate, Whin- cup’s Red Bull Racing Australia teammate Craig Lowndes, may just prove to be the man to beat this year.
Lowndes has won the great race five times – most recently in 2010 – and will share the driving duties with the very experienced Steve Richards.
Lowndes is in second place on the Supercars table with 2052 points – 273 points shy of series leader Whincup.
One of the dark horses at Bathurst could be HRT’s James Courtney, who has teamed up with the very experienced Greg Murphy, a four-time winner at Mt Panorama. And of course last year’s winner, Mark Winterbottom, will be desperate to lead the Ford charge.
The man they call “Frosty” will share the driving with Steve Owen, whose best result at Bathurst is a sixth place with Whincup in 2010.