Whin­cup sees beauty in Mt Panorama

Central and North Burnett Times - - ADVERTISING FEATURE - JOSH SPASARO APN SPORTS BUREAU

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.

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