“When you try to compare Jamie with someone like Jim Richards or a Peter Brock you have to put him up there, and put him up there right at the pinnacle and certainly in the modern era being the absolute benchmark.”
So both are united in agreement that Whincup is a legend of the sport.
But what is it that makes him so good?
“It’s the level of professionalism and meticulous preparation, which has seen him continually improve across his career,” Skaife said.
“His level of commitment is unquestioned and that has, throughout his career, allowed him to qualify well. As simple as it is, you just have to have raw speed.
“He has been the benchmark in qualifying across his career and if you start at the pointy end of the grid you stay out of trouble most times because you don’t get caught up in the field.
“He has really made a career statement based on raw pace, preparation and genuine commitment. His level of professionalism is extraordinary.”
Dane, who signed him for Triple Eight for the 2006 season and gave him his first race win in the Adelaide 500 at his first start for the team, concurs.
“He just wanted to drive one of our cars more than anything else. What’s carried through to make him so successful for so long is his dedication to the task at hand and the way he has reinvented himself every few years to fend off the opposition where he has needed to,” he said.
“There were several other drivers in the picture at that time [for the seat at Triple Eight alongside Craig Lowndes] but Jamie wasn’t interested in money at that stage.
“He just wanted an opportunity to prove himself in a good car. We certainly were not expecting him to win first time out, but we are very happy that he did and he has continued to go on from there. He’s the best there has been in national touring cars in Australia.”
Skaife echoes Dane’s view that Whincup’s laser-like focus over nearly 20 years has been another major factor in the driver’s domination. Quite simply, he rarely makes mistakes.
“It’s the way he goes about his racing, which is essentially about being really diligent and applied to the task,” Skaife said.
“At no point do you see Jamie rattled or upset by whatever the circumstances are. He deals with things by having lots of time on his hands. He doesn’t get upset or emotional about the way he goes about his racing, he is very matter of fact, quite unflappable.
“That has served him well, you don’t see him make many mistakes.
“He made a little mistake last year at Bathurst where he got caught up passing a car, and he didn’t make a very nice job of it. He ended up going into the fence at the next corner.
“That was uncharacteristic for Jamie. There are very few of those circumstances throughout his career though because of his unflappability.”
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