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The ‘spooky’ parallels between Feeney, Whincup wins

A first-year Triple Eight driver in car #88 at the Adelaide 500, holding off an established star to take a sensational first career Supercars Championship race win.

Those watching Broc Feeney’s triumph on Sunday could have been forgiven for thinking they’d seen this movie before.

Feeney’s breakthrough was remarkably reminiscent of Jamie Whincup’s victory at the same event 16 years ago, in which he announced his arrival as a champion of the future.

On both occasions car #88 started from third on the grid and rose to the front by pitting early and staying out of trouble, before holding off a Walkinshaw Holden to the finish.

In 2006 it was Whincup versus the previous year’s Bathurst winner, Todd Kelly. This time it was Feeney versus the previous year’s Bathurst winner, Chaz Mostert.

MORE: Feeney breaks through to win Holden’s final race

Such comparisons were not lost on those in the Triple Eight garage during the race, including team manager Mark Dutton.

“It was a little bit spooky, a little bit eerie, just the way it was unfolding, even with the Safety Cars and the strategies, the way things were falling,” Dutton told V8 Sleuth.

“We were thinking that, Roland (Dane, Triple Eight founder) as well. We were having a chat after the race and funnily enough we were all thinking similar things.”

Whincup leads Todd Kelly in 2006. Pic: an1images.com

Making the link between the two wins on Sunday’s TV broadcast, Dane declared 2006 as “the birth of a champion and Broc replicated that this afternoon”.

It was also a conversation that Dane shared post-race with Whincup, who stepped aside this season for Feeney this year and in turn replaced Dane as team principal.

“RD said to me straight after the race he said ‘mate, this is exactly the same as you in ‘06’. It’s like history is repeating itself,” beamed Whincup.

“I couldn’t be happier for him. He’s a good kid, comes from a good crop, we’ve given him an opportunity and he’s ground it out and got a win in his first year. What an awesome story.”

The stories of course are not without their differences.

Broc Feeney and Jamie Whincup at Sandown. Pic: Nathan Wong

Whincup came to Triple Eight after debuting in the main game with Garry Rogers Motorsport in 2003 before being sacked and spending a year on the sidelines.

He rebuilt his career with a strong season in the underfunded Tasman Motorsport team in 2005 before winning with Triple Eight in Adelaide, which was the season opener at the time.

Feeney had a comparatively rapid rise through the Super2 Series and graduated to the main game with Triple Eight, but then had to wait almost a full season for that first win.

In the meantime, he’d watched teammate Shane van Gisbergen storm to 21 race wins – including the Bathurst 1000 – and the championship title.

Broc Feeney leads Chaz Mostert early in the race. Pic: Nathan Wong

“For sure I wanted to get the first win all year. I left it pretty late!” said Feeney, who bounced back from what he described as “probably one of my worst ever races” on Saturday.
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“The car was awesome and everything sort of fell our way today, but we had good speed as well.

“I knew it was coming, it was a matter of time, I had to put all the pieces together. To do it is the perfect way to send off the year.”

Feeney ended the year sixth in the championship, four places ahead of Whincup’s effort in 2006, but prior to Sunday had just one podium finish to him name, achieved back in March.

Asked if he thought Feeney had a victory in him during what was a strong but somewhat unremarkable year, Dutton added: “Definitely thought he did, given the opportunity.

“Shane is obviously a tough competitor to beat so Broc’s been learning as much as he can, and you see him hold his own.

“I’m so happy that he won a race like that as the first.

“It wasn’t gifted, it wasn’t easy, other people didn’t make mistakes, he was just fastest and held off Chaz, who is a hard person to hold off. Chaz pushed to the very last lap.

“Full credit to Broc for just keeping his wits about him.

“Marty (Short), Broc’s engineer was flatout working with him, trying to give him the information he needed to keep him cool and calm. It’s just really special.”

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