Jamie Whincup is keen to add to his six titles.
Jamie Whincup is keen to add to his six titles. MARK HORSBURGH/AAP

Whincup wanting more as season starts

Six-time V8 Supercars champion Jamie Whincup has assured fans he's still got the magic touch ahead of the season-opening Clipsal 500 in Adelaide this weekend.

The Triple Eight Race Engineering star struggled to be competitive for much of last season, eventually finishing fifth in the championship after a run of four-straight titles.

It looked as though he was ready to dominate again when he took out the season-opening race in Adelaide, and was still among the front-runners when he took the chequered flag in race six at the Tasmania SuperSprint on March 29.

But the Holden star then suffered a rare form slump, not saluting again until August 22 at the Sydney Motorsport Park SuperSprint event.

The 33-year-old finished the season in terrific form, however, winning five of his last nine races to end up with a respectable eight wins - just one behind champion and Ford rival Mark Winterbottom.

That run home and a strong pre-season has given Whincup every reason to believe he can dominate the competition again in 2016.

"We had a slow start at the beginning of last year, but we found our pace mid-season, and after the test day, I feel confident that we've still got it," he said.

"There is no doubting the Clipsal 500 is one of the toughest races of the season.

"The 250km race on Sunday is nearly like a mini endurance race - they put us to work straight away."

Competition among the usually-consistent Triple Eight stable will be higher than ever this year, with Shane van Gisbergen joining Whincup and six-time Bathurst winner Craig Lowndes.

The New Zealander has 11 race wins to his name, including nine in the past three seasons with Tekno Autosports.

"I have been waiting for Clipsal to come around - I am excited to get in and kick off the season," van Gisbergen said.

"The car has been driving well, at both the shakedown and the test day, and teaming up with Grant (McPherson, race engineer) is going really well.

"I've finished in the top five in the drivers' championship the past three years in a row.

"I have been racing to beat Jamie now for many years, and now he's my new teammate, it's even closer to home."

The V8 drivers will hit the track for two practice sessions and two qualifying sessions tomorrow, ahead of Saturday's two 125km races, before finishing with a taxing 250km race on Sunday. Scorching conditions are expected in Adelaide over the weekend with temperatures expected to exceed 35c.

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