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