FOR the first time in 21 years, there will be no car #888 in the Repco Bathurst 1000.
Triple Eight Race Engineering has confirmed to V8 Sleuth that Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes will instead stick with the former’s traditional #88 in honour of the four-time Bathurst winner’s swansong as a full-time Supercars driver.
This year will mark only the second time that the team tackles the ‘Great Race’ without one of its cars carrying its signature #888.
It used #65 and #66 at the 2003 race, Triple Eight’s first Bathurst 1000 after completing its takeover of Briggs Motorsport prior to that year’s Sandown 500.
It switched to the racing numbers #88 and #888 for its first full-time season in the Supercars Championship in 2004, with Lowndes adopting #888 upon joining the team in 2005 and Whincup the #88 a year later.
Aside from years where he carried the champion’s #1, Whincup retained the #88 for his entire career at Triple Eight.
Three of his seven Supercars championships were won in cars carrying that number, but his four Bathurst 1000 wins have come with either #888 or #1.
The #888 remained on one of the team’s full-time entries through to Lowndes’ full-time retirement at the end of the 2018 season, but returned for the endurance races in 2019 and 2020 on the Whincup/Lowndes entry.
Reunited for the first time since 2009, the pair won four of their last six race starts with #888 and claimed the 2019 Enduro Cup but finished an unlucky fourth at Bathurst that year after a late pit stop for a splash of fuel, while Whincup crashed out of last year’s ‘Great Race’ in the early stages.
Bathurst 2021 will mark the first time Lowndes has raced a Supercar carrying anything other than #888 since 2004, and all six of his Bathurst 1000 wins with Triple Eight have come with that number.
Despite the number being synonymous with Triple Eight, #888 had previously been to Mount Panorama with two other teams.
Prancing Horse Racing gave the number its first Supercars Championship start at the 2001 Bathurst 1000 before it moved to Brad Jones Racing’s second entry for the 2002 and 2003 seasons.
Although it won’t appear in the main race, Triple Eight will field a #888 entry during the event: the Super2 car of series points leader Broc Feeney.