still holden an advantage
dominant Triple Eight one-two in the points.
How dominant? Of the 36 point-paying
sprints and enduros that made up the 2013
schedule, Whincup won 11 and Lowndes
five (compare that to NASCAR’s 36-race
Sprint Cup, where the 2013 season high
was seven wins), with 20 other podiums
between them. Other Holden teams
won another 12 races, giving the new
Commodore a near- 80 percent win rate.
The magnitude of the achievements of
Holden, Triple Eight, Whincup and Lowndes
can only be appreciated when measured in
the context of the changes involved in the
new car. For Holden, this meant moving
from the VE iteration of the Commodore to
the VF in keeping with its road cars, just as
it has done through V8 Supercars history.
An immediate complication for Holden
Motorsport was a quirk of timing that
meant it was tooling up for the VF racecar
before the road car had gone into dealers.
“We had to design and build and develop
the car six months before it was released
for sale, which is unheard of in our part of
the world,” Holden Motorsport manager
Simon McNamara recalls. “But the main
challenge was just making sure that the car
was the best that we could possibly
produce. We had some good people
working on it and, in the end, I think we got
the best external package we’ve ever had.”
But the real differences were under the
skin. Just like the NASCAR Sprint Cup “Car
of Tomorrow” introduced in 2007 (and
subsequently updated to Gen- 6 spec in
2012), the V8 Supercar “Car of the Future”
is a fundamentally new vehicle – one
different enough to consign all previously
It’s never easy to put a driver’s career
into context when they’re still racing.
And right around the time you’re
reading this, Jamie Whincup (BELOW)
will be turning 31, an age still in the
sweet spot for a V8 Supercars driver.
The simplest thing to do would be
to think of the reigning champ as an
Australian Jimmie Johnson, minus
the stubble. If you let the numbers do
the talking, they’ll say a lot: five series
titles (all in the past seven years – and
in the two seasons during that period
when he didn’t win it, he finished
second). He joins Ian Geoghegan,
Dick Johnson and Mark Skaife in a
four-way tie at the top of the all-time
roll call of championship winners.
Four Bathurst 1000 victories;
Bathurst being perhaps the only race
in the world other than the Indy 500
where a win carries as much status
as a championship. Coincidentally,
the next name ahead of him on that
list is his team-mate Craig Lowndes,
who has won one more. (Peter Brock,
the all-time record holder, has nine).
He’s third in all-time wins on 75,
15 away from matching Skaife in
second, and 19 shy of Lowndes’
record. So, has Whincup peaked?
His Triple Eight team boss, Roland
Dane doesn’t think so.
“My experience of touring car
drivers is that if they remain
motivated, fit and not distracted by
other things, there’s no reason why
they can’t still be very effective into
their 40s,” he says. “Jamie’s got
plenty of time to reach an even
higher peak than he has so far.”
MUCh MoRe to CoMe
and the Triple
team celebrate him
clinching a fifth
title at the 2013
V8 Supercars finale
in Sydney. Similar
to NASCAR, the
V8 points system
– which is why his
11-win season still
went to the wire.
FIVE IN THE BAG
races supporting the
Australian Formula 1
Grand Prix in
Melbourne. In Oz, the
V8s are as big a draw
as the stars of F1.
“September onward, the
make-or-break part of the
season, that’s where we broke
the back of the opposition”
accumulated wisdom about setup and
race preparation to the waste basket.
Changes for the new car began with a
control chassis and covered a raft of safety
upgrades, including relocation of the fuel
tank from the rear of the car to the center.
The live rear axle is replaced by independent
rear suspension, the wheels have grown
an inch to 18in., and the old gearbox has
given way to a transaxle arrangement.
It was a lot for any team to get its
head around. Lowndes gave Triple Eight