Seven-time Supercars champion Jamie Whincup knows he has his work cut out if he’s going to bridge the gap to 2018 series leader Scott McLaughlin.
Whincup heads into this weekend’s Winton round 268 points behind the DJR Team Penske young gun in the flying Shell Falcon.
“Yeah – 268 points is starting to stretch it; we certainly wouldn’t want it to get any larger than that,” Whincup said.
“We’ve lost a fair few points in the last couple of rounds, we’ve prepared well and done everything we can, but it just hasn’t gone our way.”
His performance has been good by most people’s standards, with six podiums and nine top-ten finishes from the 12 races so far, but McLaughlin is setting a frenetic pace up front, having won the last four races, along with nine podium finishes.
Winton is only round five of the 16-round 2018 championship, but Whincup can’t afford to let McLaughlin get any further ahead, even though he is just 110 points behind the second-placed Shane van Gisbergen.
Whincup hasn’t won a race at Winton since 2012, but he’s not fazed.
“When we get it right, we’re as quick as anyone out there, I feel like all the tools are in the toolbox to do the job this weekend, its just going to come down to us, which is what sport is all about, it’s that human element,” Whincup said.
Whincup’s seventh championship came in November under amazing circumstances, taking the title lead on the last lap of the last race when Mclaughlin received a penalty for an infringement.
They were at it all year in a tremendous battle.
McLaughlin seemed to have the wood on him, taking 16 poles to Whincup’s two and eight race wins to Whincup’s four, but Whincup’s consistency across the whole year put him in the hunt right up until the last race and he was rewarded with a record-breaking seventh Supercars title.
“I think that when I look back on it in, it will certainly be one that was special to win,” Whincup said.
“I’ve had some cracker battles along the way, with Frosty (Mark Winterbottom), Garth (Tander), Shane (Van Gisbergen) and Will Davison, but it’s never come down to the last the last lap on the last day, so maybe in 10 years it will be the most special, but hopefully there’s another one or two to come yet.”
This weekend will be another test of the type that Whincup relishes and the crowds will be the beneficiary of another outstanding display of the fast, hard driving he is renowned for.