Whincup to bow out a Supercars legend

Jamie Whincup was hoping for a low-key farewell this weekend at Bathurst but simply won't get it.
Jamie Whincup was hoping for a low-key farewell this weekend at Bathurst but simply won't get it.

Jamie Whincup's normal low-key preparation for the Bathurst 1000 has gone out the window.

This year's Great Race promises to be special in many ways, but the Supercars legend deservedly takes centre stage.

Even with the return of large crowds to Mount Panorama after last year's event was severely impacted by COVID-19, Whincup's farewell is the big-ticket item.

After being honoured by his Triple Eight team with an aeronautical display, the 38-year-old was presented with a custom bonnet that read #CheersJDub.

That was all in just the first two days after arriving in the regional NSW town.

"I normally like to keep it low key at the start of Bathurst week but I don't think I've got any chance this year," the Red Bull Ampol driver said.

"I've been blown away by how much effort the team have put into my last event, they're making it very special."

As Australia's most-decorated touring car driver, Whincup has nothing left to achieve.

But one last Bathurst 1000 crown - a fifth, and first since 2012 - would be nice.

"We've had a quick car and been in contention, but this is the hardest race to win and the easiest to lose," Whincup said.

"We've had some issues here over the years but we've also had some days when everything has gone right.

"I've been able to stand on the top step four times.

"I'm not a greedy person, once would've been enough for me, but to have four to my name is a fantastic feeling.

"I feel we've got as good opportunity as any to try to be there at the end of the six-and-a-half hours.

"I hope you see an aggressive win it or bin it Jamie from the last 10 years.

"I certainly don't want to be left in the middle of the pack."

The seven-time champion and winner of 124 races, Whincup will partner with fellow great Craig Lowndes for his final Bathurst 1000 as a full-time driver on Sunday

The pair won three-straight titles at Mount Panorama between 2006 and 2008, with the first being the emotional triumph that Lowndes dedicated to Peter Brock, who tragically died only weeks earlier.

Lowndes has a recent memory of what it is like to prepare for a last Bathurst 1000 as a full-time driver.

In 2018, Lowndes claimed his seventh Great Race when matched up with Steven Richards.

"I want to do my part in this process, which is support Jamie," Lowndes said.

"He can focus on a qualifying car, a top-10 car, and I can focus on a race car.

"Our ability to work together has shown in the past it works very well.

"You don't want a fast car at the beginning, but you damn well want a fast car at the end."

Whincup will slot straight into become Triple Eight's new boss, taking over from the all-conquering Roland Dane ahead of next season.

Whincup could be just as formidable off the track, but Lowndes has not doubt his feats behind the wheel will not be forgotten any time soon.

"He's the greatest of all-time in this current era, there's no doubt about that," Lowndes said.

"There's no doubt he was going to have success and the championships he's been able to rack up has been a credit to his attitude and dedication to the category.

"When I got my 100th win in Darwin, I thought great, no one will get it but he's been a thorn in my side and he's eclipsed that.

"People in history will look back on what Jamie has been able to achieve and marvel at it."

Australian Associated Press