Jamie Whincup has revealed how close he came to signing for Prodrive in 2006 before joining Triple Eight in a move which sparked his record breaking Supercars career.
The six-time Supercars champion recalled his rise up the Australian motorsport ladder in a candid interview on Fox Sports’ Inside Supercars.
Whincup endured a tough start to life in Supercars after being dropped by Garry Rogers Motorsport in 2003 leaving him without a full-time drive the following season.
However, an impressive comeback in 2005 with Tasman Motorsport left Whincup at a crossroads with both Prodrive (then Ford Performance Racing) and Triple Eight keen to acquire his services.
Whincup explained during the interview how his move to Triple Eight unfolded following a phone call from team boss Roland Dane.
The decision proved to be a key step in his career resulting in six championship titles and record equalling 105 championship race wins.
“RD (Roland Dane) said ‘hey, I want to talk to you. Can you come up?’ I said ‘if this is RD I’ll be there tomorrow!’, said Whincup on Inside Supercars.
“I went home, booked some flights, jumped on a plane and went up to Brisbane and did an interview.
“For me, the gut feeling was there. My family didn’t want me to move away from Melbourne.
“I believed I had a good opportunity to join FPR the same year, but I just had this feeling about Triple Eight. I just had this feeling that this was going to give me the best opportunity to show my skills.
“There was me, Will Davo (Davison), James Courtney and Frosty (Mark Winterbottom); the four of us.
“Ford were massively influential in the sport back then, they had a full motorsport division. We were the four young guys and they were pretty much sorting us out and working out where we were going to go.”
While a move to Prodrive would have been convenient given his Melbourne base, Whincup admits he took a risk to join Triple Eight but it was a gamble that paid off handsomely.
“I had a chat with FPR and they were happy to have me there, but I had to make this big call,” he added.
“And FPR at that stage was 10 minutes up the road from home. It would have been quite convenient to be still at home and driving for a factory team.
“Back then Triple Eight weren’t a factory team, they had a question mark over them; they only had one or two wins at that stage. I took a risk, but certainly that risk paid off.
“Somehow I got the opportunity (Triple Eight). Right place, right time. Pretty much signed up for nothing just to be there on a three-year deal.
“RD did a great thing; I almost won the championship in ’07 in my second year, so he actually paid me a bit of money, and in the next year in 2008 we went on to win the championship.”
This weekend Whincup heads to the Coates Hire Ipswich Super Sprint lying second in the championship, six points adrift of DJR Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin.