'Gloves are off': Whincup vows to beat McLaughlin at Bathurst, give Holden a worthy farewell
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Jamie Whincup has vowed to avenge his championship loss to Scott McLaughlin and send Holden out on a high at Mount Panorama this week.
After falling short for a record eighth crown in his title fight against his Ford rival, who sealed a title three-peat at the Bend last month, the Red Bull Holden Racing Team star declared the “gloves are off” in the famous Lion’s last lap of the mountain.
As the famous Australian brand prepares to farewell Bathurst this week, Whincup said he felt like Australia was losing a piece of its identity with the impending death of Holden.
Teaming up with another Holden hero, Craig Lowndes, for his assault on the Great Race, Whincup said he was determined to give the brand the farewell it deserved.
“We’re riding the wave like the thousands and millions of fans that have supported Holden, certainly at Bathurst, because Bathurst meant so much to the Holden brand,” Whincup said.
“So it’s a very special race and if we can make it even more special, we will do absolutely everything we can.
“It’s the last time the factory Holden Racing Team will be at the mountain.
“The HRT name has had a bit of a rollercoaster. It started off with Walkinshaws and now we proudly represent the HRT name and the fact that it will be the last time for HRT at the mountain, it’s quite sad.
“For me Holden is as Australian as pies, beers and Akubra hats. It’s proper Australian.
“So I feel like we have lost a bit of history there, lost a bit of what we’re all about.
“But we’ve got one more event to represent the great brand it is.”
Whincup had been locked in a title fight with McLaughlin throughout 2020, but his Ford rival pulled out to an unassailable 302-point lead in the last round at the Bend to seal a third straight Supercars championship.
As he hunted a fifth Bathurst crown, Whincup said he would be able to throw everything at conquering Mount Panorama with the championship battle now out of the equation.
“It won’t affect the action, if anything it will make it more dog eat dog, just got to get to that finish line before everyone else.
“We will go out there gloves off and see if we can get to the finish line first.
“It’s obviously disappointing that we are out of the running for the championship come the last round. We tried very hard to hang in there and take it to Bathurst where, as we know, anything can happen.
“But in reality Scotty and his crew were far too quick and made less mistakes. Ultimately they deserved the win and it’s just more of a carrot for us to push a bit harder.
“For sure, that has no doubt given us some more motivation.”
Whincup started his Supercars career in a Holden at Garry Rogers Motorsport, before a four-year switch to Ford with Triple Eight from 2006 and has raced in a Holden since 2010.
Only one of Whincup’s four Bathurst triumphs was in a Commodore — his last victory in 2012 alongside Paul Dumbrell — with the Red Bull star suffering a string of bad luck in the race since.
“Everyone keeps reminding me of this, ‘You’ve somehow lost it every possible way’. I hope that is the case, I hope I have exhausted the ways you can lose the race,” Whincup said.
“It doesn’t play on my mind at all. In some ways, I am really grateful that I have been a contender for the Great Race for many years.
“We haven’t necessarily won as many as we would have liked, but we’ve been in the mix and contributing to the race.
“So, it’s not a burden, it’s not something in the back of my mind. We are just going to go there and do it all again.
“But, at the same time I’m a big believer that you make your own luck and I feel like we have made that race harder than it needs to be in the past, so it is certainly up to us to try to make things a bit smoother this year.”
Brock would be ‘gutted’ by farwell
The former long-time partner of motor racing legend Peter Brock says he would have felt “gutted” to be farewelling Holden at Mount Panorama this week.
But Bev Brock fears the famous Lion is going to go out with a “whimper” rather than with the fanfare it deserves as many Holden fans will be denied the chance to say goodbye due to a cap on crowd numbers at Bathurst with COVID-19 restrictions this year.
As the official factory Holden team prepares to farewell the Supercars championship, Bev said the Lion had meant “everything” to the late Brock.