WHINCUP: 888’S NEW HONCHO
OUT OF THE DRIVER’S SEAT, INTO THE HOT SEAT. JAMIE WHINCUP EXPLAINS WHY HE’S GOING TO BE THE NEW BOSS AT TRIPLE EIGHT
Supercars’ sensation J-Dub reckons it’s time to hang up the helmet and be a boss. But is he the next great Dane?
AS ROLAND DANE prepares to step down as Triple Eight team principal in 2022, Supercars’ winningest driver is readying himself to step up to the top job. Jamie Whincup announced he’s retiring from full-time driving at the end of the 2021 season, coinciding with Dane’s announcement, along with the addition of businessman and racer Tony Quinn as major shareholder in the team. While Whincup still appears to have some years of properly competitive driving left in him, Wheels asked JW: why now?
“I like racing. I want to [be involved in] racing for a long time to come… and you can’t drive the race car forever,” Whincup says.
“In some regard you can’t do any role [for] too long because you lose your spark for it. I’ve enjoyed my driving career and that’s still continuing to the end of this year, but I’m looking to enjoy the new part of going racing – that’s being a team principal.”
Whincup says the team is in the right position to be bringing younger drivers in and giving them the resources to become the next generation of great racers.
“You get to a point in your driving career where you’re better off developing a young kid. I still think I could be a competitive driver for the next few years but we might as well start the transition now with Gen3 coming in with a new driver.
“Me continuing would be more selfish than what’s best for the team and I’ve always said I’ll do what’s best for the team; first and foremost.”
It’s possible those who want to see Triple Eight remain a dominant force in Supercars would prefer to see Whincup behind the wheel, but his career has already provided the team with 122 race wins, seven championships, and four Bathurst 1000 victories. Whincup says he never set out to be quite as good as he has proven himself to be.
“I never planned too far ahead, and I never had any real specific goals that I wanted to achieve in Supercars. I think if I did then I’ve achieved them without a doubt.”
Whincup adds that even though he believes fresh talent will keep the team competitive, there’s something in it for himself too.
“Listening to a lot of AFL players who now coach, they said they’ve got a massive rush out of winning a premiership as a coach, as in it’s almost been as rewarding as it was as a player. The obvious goal for me after this year is to win a championship as a team principal. Potentially there’s just as much satisfaction there as there is behind the wheel.”
Where does Whincup see Triple Eight in a couple of years time, then? He’s confident the team has been left to him, as well as new owner
Tony Quinn, in top shape in terms of management.
“I think Roland’s put a fantastic succession plan in place to make sure Triple Eight is a force to be reckoned with for a long time. No doubt there’ll be a massive hole to fill when RD decides to spend long periods of time away, but that’s up to me to raise my standard to the position that Roland’s generated over many years. If the place can’t operate without Roland, that means I’ve failed.
“Everything I attack in my life I give 110 percent. I’ve had a lot of success with things I’ve given my utmost attention to, and I’m hoping this team principal role at Triple Eight is no different to anything else I’ve given all my efforts to over the years.”
That part is clear to anyone paying attention to Whincup’s career. Almost one of every four race starts has resulted in a win for Whincup – in large part thanks to Triple Eight.
It’s hard to imagine Whincup doing anything other than his best to allow a young driver that same opportunity.
“Me continuing would be more selfish than what’s best for the team. I’ve always said I’ll do what’s best for the team”