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WALKER: The View from the Idiot Box

Seven championships. The GOAT.

There’s no doubt that when Jamie Whincup retires to a solid gold castle at McPhillamy Park (maybe), we will all look back on how we witnessed something truly special.

Ian Geoghegan, Dick Johnson and Mark Skaife have five wins. Bob Jane, Allan Moffat and Jim Richards have four. Peter Brock and Craig Lowndes two.

One hundred and eight career race wins.

Triple 8 have built him great cars, but Whincup has utilised them to the max, smooth and fast, no fuss, ultra-professional.

While his previous titles may not have finished in such incredible circumstances, it was awesome to see some proper, genuine elation from the champ.

Sculling a beer and backflipping into the harbour is pretty bloody cool, as is the fountain dunk and the race car rooftop champagne spray.

He might not be overly extroverted, but in my experience with Jamie at and away from the track, he has always been warm and friendly, something I wish everyone in punterland could understand or experience.

Job well done.

To summarise Triple 8’s 2017 season, they have concurrently:

1) Won the driver’s championship

2) Created the ZB Commodore

3) Developed the new V6 turbo powerplant

On the grid there are 23 other teams who couldn’t achieve point one, let alone manage all three.

Keep in mind that they have achieved the above without the use of Ludo Lacroix, the secret sauce that has transformed the DJR Team Penske outfit.

Supercar teams are bigger than one person, and to claim eight of the last ten crowns is an incredible performance, all from a tiny shed in Brisbane’s ‘burbs.

Next year the pit lane order will be led by 17 and 12, with 1 and 97 next door… do you reckon there were some fireworks between those camps in 2017? Hold onto your beers…

Scott McLaughlin has enough time in life to add to his stats tally, and you get the feeling that DJR Team Penske is just getting started.

Sunday’s on-track action aside, for mine one of the biggest takeaways from the weekend was the fact that McLaughlin won the Most Popular Driver fan vote.

Up until now, Craig Lowndes has had a lock on the crown, so it’s reassuring for the sport that as CL winds down, the fans will still have their new favourite driver out there circulating.

Scotty has genuine personality, and great social media presence, albeit he doesn’t have ticks in the Bathurst and championship boxes.

The emotion of the Bathurst pole lap, and pushing the car into pit lane after his Surfers Paradise skids only endeared the jandal wearing racer more with the audience.

Now to keep that momentum rolling.

How about Newcastle, ey?

Watching the race with a gathering of Queenslanders on Saturday, there appeared to be genuine surprise that Newcastle looked like a very nice place.

Who knew?!

Hopefully the first-time curiosity by fans trackside is converted into repeat visitors in years to come.

As for the track, wowee.

That backside of the circuit is in parts as sketchy as Lakeside, and as for the lack of overtaking spots, on TV at least, there appeared to be plenty of successful moves.

Speaking of overtaking, how good was the aggressive driving from Simona de Silvestro?

She has the ability, the team have surrounded here with top notch staff, and now she has the experience to put it all together.

Also, it was refreshing to see all four Nissans capable of running within the top-ten.

Fingers crossed that sort of form can become consistent in 2018.

How is the passion in fan land?

The internet has been blowing up supreme since yesterday afternoon, and it is still very much in the process of melting down.

For all the haters and doomsday merchants, everyone had an opinion on that day either way – there doesn’t appear to be many people sitting on the fence.

As for passion, there was plenty of it coming from the commentary box.

Neil Crompton and Mark Skaife are as good as it gets, and our TV production is genuinely world class.

There were plenty of warm and fuzzy stories to emerge from the support race deciders.

Todd Hazelwood sold just enough sausages to get over the line in the Super 2s, Stevie Johnson did the job in the Touring Car Masters, and Kim Jane somehow managed to muster the points to take the final ever V8 Utes title.

Cya mates, and thanks for the memories: Todd Kelly, Jason Bright, Dale Wood, perhaps James Moffat, and the rotating roster of drivers in the second LDM machine.

Also, cheers to be extended to Greg Rust, the paddock will be all the poorer for not having the nicest guy in motorsport in it.

How good is the Rookie of the Year class of 2018 shaping up? Hazelwood, Jack Le Brocq, Richie Stanaway, Anton De Pasquale, and James Golding.

Bring that on…

WORDS: Mark Walker
IMAGE: Touring Car Masters