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Whincup drops young talent hint

Jamie Whincup says a rookie driver would likely be signed on a secure two-year deal if they were to join Triple Eight next season.

Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering

Photo by: Edge Photographics

The powerhouse squad is on the lookout for a new star pilot as seven-time Supercars champion Whincup prepares to step out of the driver's seat and into the team boss role.

The overwhelming favourite to replace Whincup is rookie Broc Feeney, who is already closely aligned to T8 through its Super2 programme.

Speaking of bringing rookies into Supercars during the Darwin weekend, Whincup highlighted the need for young drivers to feel secure in their first campaign.

It's a topic he has first-hand experience with, having famously been dumped by Garry Rogers Motorsport after his rookie season in 2003.

He ended up taking a year off before returning with Tasman Motorsport in 2005 and then heading to Triple Eight alongside Craig Lowndes in 2006.

Since then he's won 123 races and banked seven titles.

“The reason why I’m stepping aside is to give young talent opportunity, whether that’s in our team... even if it’s not, even if we pick up an existing driver, that spot will become available for an up-an-comer,” said Whincup.

“You sort of need two years; I’d be really pushing for any newcomer to try to do a two-year deal because, the first year, you’re learning the other competitors, you’re learning the circuits, you’re learning the car… there’s a lot to learn in the first year.

“So, I’d encourage every team owner, if you’re going to take on a new guy or girl, at least give them two years just to find their feet first and just start firing, if they’ve got the potential, in the second year."

When asked if that means a rookie like Feeney would join T8 on a two-year deal he added: “I’d think so, for sure.

“I don’t make that whole decision at Red Bull Ampol Racing, but if it was my choice, for sure, two years minimum – for the reasons I just explained.”

Whincup stopped short of naming Feeney as the favourite, though, imploring that the short list is "still three or four".

Cam Waters is expected to be in the mix, while others may be the likes of Andre Heimgartner and Brodie Kostecki.

Chaz Mostert was considered a contender for the seat until he squared his future with Walkinshaw Andretti United away last week.

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