Three straight wins for emerging Supercars tour giants DJR Team Penske haven’t convinced Jamie Whincup Red Bull Racing’s hold on the sport will be challenged this year.
The six-time champion already knew they were the real deal.
Penske’s Fabian Coulthard claimed his second win of the non-championship round at the Australian Grand Prix on Saturday, finishing ahead of Whincup while his teammate Scott McLaughlin was third.
On Friday, McLaughlin took race one ahead of Coulthard before the flying Kiwis reversed the order in race two.
Coulthard should lock up overall honours given McLaughlin – his closest challenger – will start from the back row in Sunday’s fourth and final race at Albert Park.
It’s been a breakout meet for the cashed-up contenders.
Both drivers took home a second place in two races at Adelaide’s Clipsal 500 a fortnight ago but Shane van Gisbergen’s pair of wins gave the impression Red Bull Racing was still top dog.
Now, nobody’s really sure.
But Whincup saw the Penske challenge coming.
“We predicted they would be very strong at the end of last year,” he said.
“It’s going to be a great battle … but it’s not going to be a two horse race.
“The biggest winner is everyone who loves the sport and comes out and watches it.”
Coulthard, who won race three from pole position on Saturday, said he hoped to continue up the front at Symons Plains next month, with championship points on the line.
“The guys have given us a fantastic car, both Scotty and I, and it’s nice to be battling up the front,” he said.
“We’ve been to three tracks now, Eastern Creek, Adelaide and the Grand Prix. We’ve shown good speed at all of those. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.”
McLaughlin said starting from the back of the grid on Sunday could actually be helpful for his title hopes.
“We’ll take some adjustments into tomorrow’s race and go a bit crazy with it and see what we can do, learn some stuff,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to coming through the field. It’s going to be a bit of fun and I’ll be learning how to pass with the new car and having a big dip.”