Sport

Unsure Whincup stays on track

STRONG SUPPORT: Reigning V8 Supercars champion Jamie Whincup signs memorabilia for fans at yesterday’s special appearance at Ipswich Coates Hire at Churchill. It’s the fourth year Coates Hire have been naming-rights sponsor for this weekend’s event at Queensland Raceway.
STRONG SUPPORT: Reigning V8 Supercars champion Jamie Whincup signs memorabilia for fans at yesterday’s special appearance at Ipswich Coates Hire at Churchill. It’s the fourth year Coates Hire have been naming-rights sponsor for this weekend’s event at Queensland Raceway. Rob Williams

FIVE-time V8 Supercars champion Jamie Whincup plans to stick to what has served him best despite facing some uncertainty in this weekend's Coates Hire Ipswich 400 at Queensland Raceway.

Whincup said racing on soft tyres at the Ipswich circuit provided additional challenges.

"We've come off two really successful rounds for us," Whincup said.

"But I've got to remind everyone that was both on the hard tyre.

"It's like two different games going on. The hard tyre race and the soft tyre race."

Whincup said the Red Bull Australia team wasn't as successful in earlier rounds on the soft tyre.

"This weekend is all soft tyre so we can't read much into the last two rounds," he said.

"We just did a test day last week (at Queensland Raceway) and we did a lot of soft tyre running.

"We got a lot of information but we're not sure if we got a big gain.

"Time will tell this weekend whether we improved the car or we're still a little bit off the pace on the soft tyre."

The Gold Coast-based driver was also cautious about previous experiences at Queensland Raceway.

"It has had its disadvantages as well in the past where you set the car up for the conditions on a test day then they completely change and you're too scared to go away from what you know," he said.

"We're really just focusing on this weekend.

"Forgetting that it's our test track and just working on what we do at any other race meeting where we seem to go very well."

Whincup, 31, gave a valuable insight into why he's the reigning champion.

"In the busy time, there's no relaxing whatsover," he said, having formed a successful partnership with another popular V8 driver Craig Lowndes.

"I've had the biggest two weeks of my life, testing and heading into this week. It's been really intense."

Whincup starts this weekend's round second overall in the championship on 1538 points behind leader Mark Winterbottom on 1634.

Fabian Coulthard is third with 1361 points and Whincup's Red Bull teammate Lowndes is hovering in sixth place on 1352 points.

Lowndes was due to arrive in Queensland last night. He's been holidaying in Europe and finished third in his class at last weekend's Spa-Francorchamps 24 hour race.

"I came into this team pretty raw and Lowndesy helped me out with open arms,'' Whincup said.

"I feel I've been able to give a little bit back to the partnership in the last four or five years.

"It's been a real good healthy rivalry for eight years now so hopefully that can continue."

Away from the track, Whincup fulfils his need for speed in a relaxing way.

He enjoys getting out on the Gold Coast Broadwater on his jetski "to recharge the batteries and go again''.

However, for the next few days, his focus is purely on racing for the team and his fans.

"We do enjoy it,'' he said. "It's certainly all part of our sport.

"There's only two drivers on the frontline per team, rather than a footy team, that can mix it up with 30 plus guys.

"Lowndesy and I travel all over the country trying to promote the sport and look after our sponsors."

Number one driver: Jamie Whincup

  • Team: Triple Eight Race Engineering (car number one).
  • Age: 31. Lives: Gold Coast. Nickname: Whinners, J-Dub (comes from his initials JW).
  • Major successes: Winning V8 Supercars championship in 2008, 2009, and from 2011-13. Won Bathurst 1000 in 2006-08 with Craig Lowndes and in 2012 with Paul Dumbrell.
  • Most satisfying part of motorsport: "Achieving things with the team.''
  • Toughest part of motorsport: "I'm watched every minute of my job.''
  • On driving the number one car: "You work so hard to earn the right to be able to represent the number one. Then when you get the number one, you work really hard to represent that number the way it should be, at the highest possible quality.''

Topics:  coates hire ipswich 400, jamie whincup, v8 supercars



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