Whincup, SVG eager for Newcastle finale


Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen. pic: Red Bull Holden Racing Website

Red Bull Holden Racing drivers Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen say they are eager for the Supercars championship finale at Newcastle this weekend.

Both drivers are mathematically in with a chance of winning the Supercars championship title, however, van Gisbergen – who is 276-points adrift of standings leader Whincup, with 300-points on offer this weekend – has already stated he’s willing to take one for the team to get his stable-mate over the line.

Whincup’s scenario is vastly different though, with the six-time champion only 30-points clear of rival Scott McLaughlin heading into the final round.

The Queensland racer says he is feeling the pressure of having the title accolade potentially weighing on his shoulders, but outlined the on-track battles will hopefully be no different.

“I am feeling a lot of tension and stress, combined with the fatigue from a long year, but we are going to prepare as well as we can and push as hard as we can,” said Whincup.

“The thing I love the most is the on-track battles, and this one [Newcastle 500] will be no different.

“I hope all championship contenders have a good, clean race.”

Whincup, who recently visited the Newcastle street circuit with engineer David Cauchi, expects the layout to be challenging from a setup perspective, on top of the varying elevation changes.

“It’s a very tight, twisty circuit that will be very challenging from a driver and setup point of view,” explained Whincup.

“It’s hard exactly to tell how well the track has been laid out until I’ve had a drive around the circuit but it looks very challenging, especially the downhill sections.”

Van Gisbergen on the other hand, says he will be there to assist Whincup’s title bid as well as help bring home the Teams Championship.

“It’s going to be great to see those two guys [Whincup and McLaughlin] go at it,” said van Gisbergen.

“The priority on car #97’s side of the garage is to do what we can to not only help Jamie win the championship, but to get the Teams Championship title.

“To achieve that, we’ll need to race two good days and [get] consistent results.”

The New Zealander also expects setting up the car will be a difficult factor for the 2.6km circuit and says the two 250km races on Saturday and Sunday will be ‘super tough’.

“It’s always a big challenge for the engineer to come up with a setup that’s going to be reasonably close straight away. Then the driver needs to learn the track as quickly as possible,” said van Gisbergen.

“A few of the corners could have been done a lot better to make more passing opportunities but hopefully I’m wrong.

“Qualifying will be important in Newcastle.

“The track looks like it has high grip factor which is what we like as drivers. I think the 250km races here will be super tough. Its 92 laps, that’s a long stint.

“The town is already buzzing so the atmosphere is going to be awesome.”

The Newcastle 500 begins with Practice 1 on Friday at 1210 AEDT.