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Whincup happy to manage ‘a few punch-ons’

MANAGING two highly competitive sides of the Triple Eight garage is a good problem to have for Jamie Whincup.

The Red Bull Ampol team made a flying start to the season at the Thrifty Bathurst 500, where recruit Will Brown and third-year star Broc Feeney scored a pole and a win apiece.

Brown ended the weekend with the championship lead, nine points ahead of Feeney, after a weekend in which Walkinshaw Andretti United’s Chaz Mostert put up the only real resistance.

The evenly matched nature of Triple Eight’s smiling assassins and Supercars’ rules requiring team cars to share a pit box means there’s plenty of potential for tension within the garage.

Feeney and Brown on the Bathurst podium. Pic: Supplied

Both Bathurst races had their awkward moments; Feeney over-cutting Brown in the pits on Saturday, and then a debate over whether to switch the order of the cars early on Sunday.

“It’s early days to be talking about the championship,” said Whincup after Sunday’s race.

“Both blokes get along really well at the moment, a few punch-ons with the engineers back in their bunker, but we’ll sort that out, that’s up to me to manage.

“It’s fantastic to have two competitive cars, two of the best, young talents we’ve seen for a long, long time.

“It’s exciting for the sport that we’ve got a couple of kids under 25 that are right at the front of the main series here in Australia.

“I’m as excited, I’m a fan like anybody, (as anyone) to see how that all unravels as the year goes on.”

Saturday proved the 16th time in 19 years that Triple Eight has won the first race of the Supercars Championship season.

It’s an extraordinary statistic that would read one better had the team’s cars not been disqualified from a one-two finish in the 2023 opener due to a cool box discrepancy.

Whincup says the team is now looking forward to a well-earned rest after a taxing few months.

Triple Eight built two new Camaros over the off-season, while the combination of its GT and Supercars squads have been racing on each of the last four weekends.

“We’re pretty worn out, pretty tired,” he said.

“It’s been four weeks on the trot, we’ve been in the Middle East and then the (Bathurst) 12 Hour last weekend, which was fantastic, then we’ve been racing Supercars all weekend.

“It’s great to do what you love week in, week out, but at the same time we’re pretty weary and have a few days off next week to do what normal people do, mow the lawn, go down the beach…”

Feeney after his Sunday pole position. Pic: Supplied

Triple Eight’s Bathurst 500 efforts have left the squad on top of the Supercars teams’ championship, which means taking the top position in pit lane under the new ‘live’ pit order system.

While that is ordinarily a position of pride, Whincup downplays its importance given that Supercars won’t have pit garages – or pitstops – at the next event, the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.

“I’m not a fan, as you know, of the live pitlane, but it is what it is,” he said.

“We go to the Grand Prix, I don’t think it means anything at the Grand Prix, you want to be leading the teams’ championship out of the Grand Prix when it makes a difference.”

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