Craig Lowndes has praised Team Vodafone team-mate Jamie Whincup as 'the best out there' after seeing him secure the 2008 V8 Supercar Championship title at Oran Park.
Whincup went into the weekend with one hand already on the crown, and victory in the first race was enough to put him out of reach of closest rival Mark Winterbottom.
The remaining two races turned out to be tough ones for the champion after he broke a differential in race two and took the flag in 23rd in race three after a number of on-track skirmishes with other drivers – leaving him with his worst overall round result since Hamilton earlier in the year.
Despite that fact however, Lowndes insisted that Whincup was a worthy champion and that Team Vodafone – which also wrapped up the teams' crown – was in better shape than ever.
“He is the best out there,” Lowndes, who finished on the podium for the round, said. “When Jamie came into the team he was able to push us along. His maturity this year has been amazing, he learns from everything and it has been great to have him as a team-mate, each lap he pushes at 110 per cent.
“If we break something, the team goes away and works out how to make it better. For us looking to the future, we are in better shape than ever before.”
Having had chance to reflect on his title success, Whincup said he was pleased to have wrapped up the crown before his bad luck arrived.
“You want your bad luck to happen at the right time so that was perfect,” he said. “Race three was fun, it was great to rub panels with the two guys who are retiring [Mark Skaife and Paul Morris].
“It has been an absolutely amazing year for the whole team and we have come a long way. We learnt how to fight for a championship but now we are going to have to learn how to retain it.”
Team Vodafone's dominating season included 16 race wins, twelve podiums, six round wins, five pole positions and the a third consecutive Bathurst victory.