Low expectations for breaking the legendary Bathurst 1000 qualifying lap record won’t spell the end of high drama at Mount Panorama, according to V8 Supercars defending champion Jamie Whincup.
Four-time Bathurst winner Whincup had believed, under the right conditions, the Car of the Future design introduced this year could help eclipse Greg Murphy’s 2003 time of two minutes, 6.86 seconds on the mountain – affectionately known as “the Lap of the Gods”.
But after “hauling” his Holden to clock the weekend’s fastest time (two minutes, 8.00 seconds) and claim provisional pole ahead of Saturday’s top 10 qualifying shootout, the series leader all but gave up on reeling in Murphy’s 10-year-old record – for now.
However, he claimed the hot, deteriorating track was to blame – not the new COTF set-up.
“I don’t think anyone here is happy. I think it will take a couple more years to really get right on top of these cars around this crazy place,” Whincup said.
But asked about the likelihood of breaking flying Kiwi Murphy’s now legendary time, Whincup said: “I think a V8 Supercar doing an eight dead (2:08.00) is hauling, don’t disrespect that.
“If I had my way I wouldn’t be too focused on the time.
“It is what is going on behind the scenes, whoever is competing against each other trying to be quickest still applies.
“Even if we are doing 2:10, 2:11, the same fun is going on behind the scenes.”
Ford threat Mark Winterbottom who was second fastest for the shootout was more blunt when asked about Murphy’s decade-long mark of Bathurst perfection.
“Do a 2:06.8? I think you are dreaming,” he said.
“But who knows? It might be overcast (for the shootout). Who can tell? But I wouldn’t think so.”
Holden’s Jason Bright – who was third fastest on Friday – believed the question should be asked after the Bathurst surface receives a facelift ahead of the 2014 race.
“It’s the greasiest I have ever felt it around here,” said Bright, who made his V8 debut way back in 1997.
“I have never had the car move around the way it has at the moment. Usually the car feels quite planted.
“I would put it down to track temperature more than anything else.”
Top 10 qualifying starts at 1700 AEDT.