ON PACE: Red Bull Holden Racing Team's Jamie Whincup tests his limits at the Watpac Townsville 400.
ON PACE: Red Bull Holden Racing Team's Jamie Whincup tests his limits at the Watpac Townsville 400. EDGE PHOTOGRAPHICS

Challenging race season revs up Triple Eight team

TRIPLE Eight Race Engineering boss Roland Dane has admitted his powerhouse team is facing its biggest Supercars challenge in a decade.

Triple Eight's Jamie Whincup will head into this weekend's Ipswich Super Sprint trailing championship leader Scott McLaughlin by just four points.

The six-time Supercars champion broke through for his first win of the year in the last race in Townsville, finally standing on top of the dais after nine podium finishes.

Triple Eight has won seven of the past nine championships, with the Brisbane-based outfit asserting itself as the undisputed heavyweights of the category.

But cashed-up DJR Team Penske has risen to the challenge this year with McLaughlin leading the championship and Fabian Coulthard running third.

"We're in the biggest battle we've had since 2007 in the championship with the other local team in DJR Penske," Dane said.

"It's a very interesting season for everyone but we're having to work harder than we ever have.

"They (DJR Team Penske) are better resourced than anyone else but it's not just about how much you've got, it's how you use it.

"They've started to use it very effectively in the last six months. It's up to us to fight back and that's what we're doing."


A supplied image obtained Saturday, July 8, 2017 of Supercars driver Scott McLaughlin winner of race 1 in Townsville. (AAP Images/EDGE Photographics) NO ARCHIVING
Scott McLaughlin celebrates winning race 1 in Townsville. MARK HORSBURGH

"It always helps if you know how to do it. You're more relaxed about it," he said.

"He's got 105 wins under his belt. It's an awful lot of wins. That counts for something.

"He is fully motivated, especially having got this season's monkey off his back where he had lots of podiums but no wins until Townsville.

"Scott has shown himself to be a top three or four driver for several years. He's fully capable of having a big battle and is in a very good position to win the championship like Jamie is.

"Fabian has been around a lot longer and probably hasn't quite shown yet that he can contend for a championship but Scotty McLaughlin certainly can.

"McLaughlin has got what it takes. We'll have to give it our best."

Practice begins at the Queensland Raceway on Friday with racing on Saturday and Sunday.