DESPITE being on a super run of form, V8 Supercars champion Jamie Whincup is playing down his chances ahead of next weekend’s Bathurst 1000.
The five-time V8s champion has overcome a mid-season slump to open up a 273-point series lead going into the 1000 kilometre endurance classic at Mount Panorama.
Victory in last month’s Sandown 500 alongside co-driver Paul Dumbrell was Whincup’s seventh win from his past 13 starts.
A fifth Bathurst crown would put Whincup on track to join Craig Lowndes (1996) and Peter Brock (1978, 1980) as the only men to win both endurance races and a championship in the same year.
But the Red Bull Racing driver said a $2 million resurfacing of the Mount Panorama circuit has him feeling unsure of his chances.
“With the resurfacing at Bathurst, to be honest, it’s a little bit of a weakness for our cars on that really grippy surface,” Whincup said.
“It sounds weird, but we’re not setting our expectations too high for the big one. If we can finish in the 10 we’ll be pretty happy.”
Predictions are that the new road surface will result in much faster lap times.
Whincup said a lot of that will come down to how quickly each team can adapt to setting up their cars to make the most of the track’s new feel.
“It’s fairly substantial as far as car set up goes. The good thing is we’ve got plenty of laps so Thursday, Friday are going to be critical,” he said.
“It’ll be a bit of learning but, hey, we’ve got the best engineers in the country, so they’ll get on top of it.
“The challenge is good. It’s just a lot of headaches during the weekend to get your car right.”
Victory in the October 12 race will almost certainly have Whincup in a near-unassailable position going into the final three rounds of the year.
But the 32-year-old has been in the championship long enough to know that regular season form means little when it comes to the six hours of racing you must survive to come out on top at Bathurst.
“It’s such a different kettle of fish, Bathurst,” he said.
“No-one ever goes in there confident they’re going to do the job. We’ll do our thing ... no more or less than any other event.”