The pain of last year’s Bathurst 1000 still burns for six-time V8 Supercars champion Jamie Whincup.
But the Holden superstar hopes to find redemption at the legendary Mount Panorama this weekend in a late bid to revive his championship hopes.
Team boss Roland Dane sensationally blamed Whincup after he ran out of fuel in the 161st and final lap of last year’s epic enduro, all but gifting Ford young gun Chaz Mostert a memorable maiden win.
Whincup’s 2015 title charge also appears to have run out of gas, sitting in eighth spot in the championship standings on 1586 points behind Ford pace setter and arch rival Mark Winterbottom (2215).
But Whincup was confident of reversing his fortunes on both fronts in Sunday’s Great Race.
“The reality is you can turn your year around at Bathurst,” he said.
“From here on in it’s the start of the run home.
“And Bathurst is our holy grail, the Melbourne Cup of our sport.
“We haven’t had a good year but we can turn it around here with a good result.”
Just don’t mention the 2014 race.
Whincup was repeatedly urged by engineer David Cauchi and team manager Mark Dutton to ease his pace in the dying stages but kept pushing.
He enjoyed an overall Bathurst lead of almost three seconds before his fuel gaffe, eventually limping over the line in fifth.
It was still a touchy subject for Whincup on Tuesday, describing the race as “the one that got away”.
“I could explain the (fuel) situation but we don’t have all day,” he said.
“But we’ve produced the best cars we can – hopefully it’s the best car at Bathurst.”
Four-time Bathurst champion Whincup – alongside co-driver Paul Dumbrell – is still favourite with the bookmakers despite his rotten season.
There was no joy for Whincup at this year’s opening enduro – the Sandown 500.
Whincup and Dumbrell started on pole and led for 86 of the first 100 laps but a puncture turned their race on its ear.
They finished 15th.
If Whincup triumphs, it would seal Holden’s 30th Bathurst victory and first since 2012.
But the team to beat is Ford’s Prodrive Racing.
No.1 driver Winterbottom has extended his overall championship lead to 198 points over teammate Mostert with his Sandown 500 triumph.
Prodrive Racing are vying for a third straight Bathurst win.
“I am proud to have brought the race down to the last lap the last three years,” said Whincup who last tasted victory on the mountain in 2012.
“I would love to be in contention again.
“The motivation is as high as it has ever been.”