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Feature: The case for Jamie Whincup being the G.O.A.T.

Jamie Whincup will retire from full-time driving to take on the role of team principal at Triple Eight Race Engineering at the end of 2021. It’ll mark the end of an era in Supercars, with Whincup the undisputed greatest driver in the current era of the category and, as we consider in SupercarXtra Magazine issue #122, arguably the greatest of all time. 

29 July 2021

Fifteen years ago, 23-year-old Jamie Whincup joined Triple Eight Race Engineering for the 2006 Supercars season. No one could’ve predicted the success that followed. Whincup was hired by Triple Eight for the role of number two and co-driver to Craig Lowndes. While Lowndes had already won three championships and come close to another in 2005, Whincup had bounced back from a disappointing rookie season that had seen him fired by Garry Rogers Motorsport at the end of 2003, a solid endurance campaign with Perkins Engineering in 2004 and a career-changing season with Tasman Motorsport in 2005.

In his first year with Triple Eight, Whincup won the season-opening event in Adelaide and teamed with Lowndes to claim victory at Bathurst. Whincup’s 10th in the championship standings wasn’t a true indication of his season, having missed two races as a result of accident damage in Tasmania. But by 2007, he gained the ascendancy within the team and began a championship-contending charge that would see him rewrite the record books.

After sixteen seasons with Triple Eight, Whincup will end his full-time career with the following records:

– The most Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercars drivers’ titles.
– The equal most consecutive Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercars drivers’ titles.
– The most Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercars race wins.
– The most Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercars pole positions.
– The most Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercars podiums.
– The most Bathurst 1000 wins for a current full-time driver.
– The most Bathurst 1000 podiums for a current full-time driver.
– The equal most consecutive Bathurst 500/1000 wins.

Whincup took his first championship win in 2008 and backed it up in 2009. After a narrow defeat in 2010, he fought back with four in a row between 2011 and 2014. Then, just as it seemed a new generation had taken over at the top, he won a seventh title in 2017. He also scored five Sandown 500 wins, four Bathurst 1000 wins and two Enduro Cup wins.

Between 2007 and 2021, he has finished inside the top five in the championship in each season and only outside the top three on two occasions. He has won races in each of his 16 seasons with Triple Eight and podiums in the last 17 seasons.

While he did all his winning with Triple Eight, his championship run has spanned two manufacturers (Ford and Holden) and four models (BF Falcon, FG Falcon, VE Commodore and VF Commodore), from the Project Blueprint cars into Car of the Future and Gen2.

Between 2008 and 2014, Whincup won over 30 percent of the races in each of those seasons and over 40 percent in 2008, 2009 and 2012. In his non-championship winning seasons between 2008 and 2017, he won 34.6 percent of the races in 2010, 22.2 percent in 2015 and 24.1 percent Ҭin 2016.

What’s remarkable about Whincup’s run is how close he came to eight consecutive championships between 2007 and 2014, with only a 67-point swing across two seasons needed to add to his tally.

In 2007, his first season as a championship contender, he missed the title by two points to the HSV Dealer Team’s Garth Tander.
Whincup lost a third place following a disqualification at Eastern Creek midway through the season, with those lost points ultimately costing him the championship. The team had incorrectly used a previous-spec rear brake, which was in the spares box to use at a post-event ride day.

In 2010, the season in which Triple Eight switched from Ford Falcons to Holden Commodores, Whincup lost the title to Dick Johnson Racing’s James Courtney by 65 points. Whincup won nine races compared to Courtney’s five, but unreliability in the change of manufacturers proved the decisive factor with engine troubles at Queensland Raceway and Phillip Island.

It meant his championship-winning run would only have ended in 2015, a season in which the new FG X Falcon outpaced the VF Commodore and a puncture at Sandown and a penalty at Bathurst took Whincup out of the title race.

Just when it seemed his run of championships had come to an end, with new teammate Shane van Gisbergen winning the title in 2016, Whincup prevailed in a tight championship race in 2017. Despite only four wins over the course of the season, his lowest since 2006, consistency was again the key to his success with 15 podiums despite only two pole positions ““ one of 14 consecutive seasons with more than 12 podiums.

His seventh title demonstrated his ability to compete against a new generation, particularly van Gisbergen and Scott McLaughlin; only adding to his greatest of all-time case.

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