Whin­cup aware of huge bat­tle ahead

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - MICHAEL THOMP­SON michael. thomp­son@ news. com. au

JAMIE Whin­cup won back his Reid Park crown, but the Holden star says Scott McLaugh­lin is still the man to beat in this year’s V8 Su­per­cars cham­pi­onship.

Whin­cup left Townsville yes­ter­day hav­ing equalled Craig Lown­des’ record of most ca­reer vic­to­ries in Su­per­cars his­tory thanks to his sec­ond- day win, which saw the undis­puted king of Reid Park steal the lead off in- form McLaugh­lin af­ter a 16th- lap pit stop.

Whin­cup said he had a sleep­less night af­ter Sun­day’s win, and while he now sits just six com­pe­ti­tion points be­hind McLaugh­lin at the top of the cham­pi­onship stand­ings, he con­cedes catch­ing McLaugh­lin’s Shell V- Power Rac­ing Ford will be an up­hill bat­tle.

“I’m not go­ing to stand here and make any big state­ments like ‘ we’re back’ or any­thing,” he said.

“We did get dusted by the other car in qual­i­fy­ing and then race one, but we put in a re­ally good per­for­mance yes­ter­day which got us the win.

“But we’re un­der no il­lu­sions that we’re the quick­est car out there, we still have a lot of work to do be­hind the scenes.

“We’ll spend a cou­ple of days cel­e­brat­ing the win, but then it’s heads down mak­ing sure we im­prove the car speed and be a real force for this year’s cham­pi­onship.”

Whin­cup gets the chance to leapfrog DJR Team Penske driver McLaugh­lin in three weeks at the Ip­swich Su­perSprint. McLaugh­lin him­self said he had “noth­ing” on Whin­cup dur­ing Sun­day’s sec­ond race, but Whin­cup said the 24- yearold speed­ster was in the box seat for a maiden cham­pi­onship win.

“He dusted us by over two tenths of a sec­ond in both qual­i­fy­ing runs,” he said. “Car pace is what wins races and wins cham­pi­onships, so we re­ally need to dig deep.

“We’ve known this for two months and been work­ing re­ally hard, so it’s great to get a small re­ward for the hard work that’s been put in.

“But we know there’s a long road to go and I think it’s great for ev­ery­one with the bat­tle that’s go­ing on, and we’re go­ing to fight it out to the end.”

Whin­cup again praised the Townsville 400 and its hy­brid cir­cuit.

“We love com­ing to Townsville and I be­lieve this place is ce­mented on the cal­en­dar, and I’m sure we’ll come back here for many years to come,” he said, while also ex­plain­ing why Townsville fans did not wit­ness a cel­e­bra­tory burnout.

“We’re re­ally short on en­gine parts and we have a mas­sive en­gine pro­gram go­ing on for 2019 as well, so al­though I would’ve loved to have spun the wheels and made smoke, en­ginewise there’s too much cost in­volved,” he said.

Pic­tures: WES­LEY MONTS, ZAK SIMMONDS

CIR­CUIT KING: Jamie Whin­cup at Reid Park yes­ter­day and ( above) win­ning the sec­ond race at the Wat­pac Townsville 400 on Sun­day.

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