Time to clean up
IF IT comes down to me overtaking James Courtney to give Jamie Whincup his third consecutive V8 Supercar championship, I will do everything I possibly can to get by. But I won’t play dirty, and there are no team orders as such.
There has been no discussion yet about team orders or strategies. We’ll have to see where Jamie, James, Frosty and I are positioned after qualifying on Saturday before we even think about that.
No doubt we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, but there won’t be any orders to play dirty.
I’ll do the best I can to help Jamie, but I won’t change my style for this weekend.
I will attack James as hard as always, and if he leaves a door open I’ll put my nose up the inside and have a go.
But I won’t knock him out of the way. I know how gut-wrenching that is after having it done to me at Phillip Island in 2006.
You want to win a championship honestly and on your own merits and not have it handed to you by other people’s mistakes.
Jamie is in a position where he has nothing to lose and will come out firing this weekend.
He’s been doing all the usual PR stuff with me this week in the lead-up to the final at Homebush, but he’s also been very focused on overtaking James to win the title.
Jamie was confident coming out of Sandown where the car was working well for him, but the red flags didn’t help our cause.
The media pressure is on both of them, but I think Jamie will handle it a bit better because he’s been here before.
However, in the past two years he’s come into this weekend leading, not chasing, so he’ll have a different mindset this time.
I think the weather will play a big part in the two 250km races. It’s been raining heavily all week and is expected to continue up to and maybe into the weekend.
Rain always mixes things up. The wet conditions will mean a lot more strategy over the weekend with decisions on wet tyres and slicks.
We know what the track is like in the dry, but we have no idea of its grip and characteristics in the wet.
For one thing, pit lane is downhill and it might be a bit awkward pulling up correctly in your pit bay.
The surface looks grippy in some sections, but dubious in other sections where we run across some old bitumen.
I can only speak for myself, but the idea is to stay off the concrete walls. That will be difficult for Jamie and James, who will be in a heated battle to maintain track position.
Courtney won the Sunday race last year and the DJR cars go well in the wet, so he will be confident.
But Jamie has also done well in the wet and, though he didn’t have the speed he wanted last year, he’s confident about his car speed now.
The team PR machines have been running hot in the lead-up to the final.
One thing Team Vodafone has done to get a bit of interest going is launch Australia’s first V8 fragrance. It’s called Eau De Engine, but it should be called Eau De Pit Crew Sweat.
You can’t buy it. It’s just a marketing tool to raise some interest. We’ve made 200 bottles of the fragrance, done video and photos and we’re giving it to media and VIPs. It’s quite disgusting. It makes you smell like a grease monkey.
I’ve also spent a lot of time signing my book, which has gone into its second printing. I’m not yet prepared to write my autobiography because I still have a lot of years of racing and hopefully some other career in motorsport after that, I can now see there might be another book or two in me.
I could start with a follow-up that includes this year’s enduro wins at Phillip Island and Bathurst or delve back into my early days of racing.
There’s still a lot to be said about my first shift of allegiances from Holden to Ford.
Winning form: James Courtney gets back on track at Sandown.
V8 Supercar champion