Whincup Running Behind in Texas
By: V8 Supercars
V8 Supercars Championship leader Jamie Whincup has arrived at the Circuit of the Americas declaring himself in holiday mode and running behind in his preparation for this weekend’s historic Austin 400.
The admission from the Red Bull Holden Commodore VF star offers glimmers of hope to his rivals that Whincup might not be the dominant force at the Circuit of the Americas that he has often been in the category’s fly away races.
And it is also surprising because the 30-year old four-time V8 Supercars Champion has a reputation for meticulous preparation and an almost fanatical attention to detail in his racing.
“I have got to admit I am probably the least prepared I have been for a long time so I’ll go out there on Friday and learn the circuit, and if I can run in the 10 I will be happy,” Whincup told a Thursday (US time) press conference at the circuit.
“I haven’t been here; I haven’t seen the circuit until yesterday. A few of the other boys have been here and had a look around and probably studied it a lot more than I have. I have been in holiday mode so we’ll see tomorrow.”
Part of the frustration for Whincup is the lack of data for him to study as V8s have never raced at COTA before and only a few races have been conducted in total at the new facility.
“We rely on data from the cars from previous years, also the onboard footage as well, and we have zero of that outside the few laps that James (Courtney) did and F1 and MotoGP and stuff like that.
“So you do what you can, but it’s much the same for everyone, we are all not sure, and you won’t know until you are in your own car on fresh tyres having a flat-out go.
“It’s a bit of challenge for all of us, we all want to be quickest out the gate, we all want to perform well on a brand new circuit, so I think we are going to have a crack and see where we end up.”
The V8 Supercars will contest four 100km races on the 3.7km short version of the COTA course, two on Saturday and two on Saturday. Each race includes a mandatory pit stop in which at least two tyres must be changed.
There are 28 hard tyres allocated to each car that also must cover four practice sessions on Friday and two qualifying sessions on each of Friday and Saturday.
Because no-one has raced at COTA before all cars will be able to participate in the first two practice sessions, something that Whincup sees as a mixed blessing.
“It’s great we get more practice time, that’s a bonus,” he said. “We are massively limited on tyres though unfortunately. With so many corners we are going to be tearing tyres up, so although we have a heap of time we won’t be able to do a heap of laps or we will be out of rubber. It would have been nice to get an extra set.”
Whincup acknowledged that his 67 Championship points lead over Ford Performance Racing’s Will Davison would potentially come into play over the weekend in determining just how hard he would race for victory in the category’s first visit to the USA.
“I will make that call in the race depending on where I am,” he said.
“The first V8 Supercars race in the United States is obviously a huge deal for all of us, and I am not just saying that because we are here. I think whoever stands on top of the podium or gets the most points over the weekend is going to be pretty proud of themselves.
“Is it like a Bathurst where you forget about the championship and just worry about the win? I am not sure you can go that far, but it it’s certainly going to mean a lot to the winner of the event.”