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How Triple Eight overcame poaching raid to win title

JAMIE Whincup says the need to rebound from a mid-season exodus makes Triple Eight Race Engineering’s Dunlop Super2 Series title extra special.

Declan Fraser sealed the second-tier crown with victory in the final race of the season last Sunday in Adelaide.

It represents Triple Eight’s second straight Super2 title – following Broc Feeney’s 2021 triumph – and makes for three overall in the feeder series.

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But the latest success didn’t come without a significant curveball along the way.

“Our whole Super2 team fell apart, or got poached, or decided to move on, after the second round this year,” said managing director Jamie Whincup.

“We had Matty Cook and two mechanics all depart to another team which left us in a little bit of dire straits so Jess (Dane, co-owner) and Jimmy (Super2 crew chief James Henderson) put their hand up and we rebuilt that team.

“To come from where we did and then to win the championship with Declan is unbelievable.”

Indeed, Cook departed as Triple Eight’s Super2 team manager immediately after the Perth SuperNight to take up an offer to become PremiAir Racing team principal.

Dane stepped up in his place to spearhead the program through the final four events.

Declan Fraser runs ahead of Tickford Racing’s Zak Best. Pic: Nathan Wong

Further impressive was how Fraser quickly established himself as part of the furniture at Triple Eight this year, paying his way to attend Supercars events to soak up maximum learnings.

The 22-year-old also made his Great Race debut with the team alongside Bathurst legend Craig Lowndes, and is expected to make more wildcard appearances in 2023 having failed to secure a full-time seat.

Fraser is unlikely to return to Super2; as is Triple Eight (its reasoning though being an inability to secure the necessary Gen2 cars to run).

“He is an awesome young kid, putting everything out there and creating a good group of people around him,” said Triple Eight star Shane van Gisbergen.

“It’s a shame he’s not going to be on the (main game) grid next year, he is definitely good enough for it, but hopefully he gets a shot in a good wildcard and then gets a drive the next year.”

Whincup echoed those sentiments: “He’s a good kid, he’s got good morals, he comes from a good crop, his parents are fantastic.

“He has been at every debrief, we’ve just given him as much information as we can and tried to grow him as much as possible.

“We haven’t signed him up for five or 10 years and we’re not trying to keep him secured or anything, we just want to see him do well and (Sunday) was fantastic.

“We’ll keep trying to give him opportunities where we can to keep growing as an athlete and a human being.”

As it stands, wildcard entries will be permitted to contest one solo round in the 2023 Repco Supercars Championship plus both the Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000.

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