The Australian outfit was established in 2004, as owners Roland Dane, Ian Harrison, Peter Butterly and Derek Warwick sought out a greater challenge to accompany their various successes in the highly-competitive British Touring Car Championship.
A significant step in Triple Eight beginning its first full-time season was the signing of multiple champion Craig Lowndes, who brought winning experience and a freakish ability to control a car in any conditions. In Lowndes’ first year with the team, it claimed more pole positions, race and round victories than any other, finishing a close runner-up in the series title chase.
The legendary pairing of Lowndes and Whincup was formed in 2006. The signing of young gun Whincup proved a mater stroke for the team, as he went on to win his first race on debut, the Clipsal 500. The duo shone in endurance mode, kick-starting their Bathurst blitz with a popular victory.
Lowndes was in the title hunt all season long, losing out in controversial circumstances when rival Rick Kelly punted him off the circuit at Phillip Island as the two fought for points in the final race.
The team took another step forward in 2007, announcing a three-year multi-million dollar sponsorship deal with leading mobile communications company Vodafone. TeamVodafone went on to win a number of key rounds and added a second Bathurst crown to the mantle.
It was also the year that Whincup stood up as a genuine title contender, ultimately losing out by a mere 2 points after a hard-fought season right to the final chequered flag.
Keen to build on the momentum from 2007, Whincup kicked off 2008 in a dominant fashion, winning his second Clipsal 500 and setting up for his biggest year yet. He overcame a massive hurdle after a zero-points round in New Zealand saw the pack reel him back in.
Whincup teamed with Lowndes to win the team’s third Bathurst title, a history-making effort for the outfit. Whincup’s round win total amounted to six, and helped him to win the first of what is sure to be many driver’s titles.
2009 was a landmark year for the team, which shifted its headquarters in the off-season to a purpose-built facility in Banyo. Behind closed doors the crew toiled endlessly to bring online a brand new race car, not only for itself, but for a variety of customer teams who had opted for chassis’ designed and built on Triple Eight know-how.
The car was unstoppable on debut, steamrolling the opening four races and setting up a strong championship campaign for both Whincup and Lowndes.
With rivals at the height of their competitiveness, the team forged onwards and upwards, enjoying success at a variety of events. The introduction of a grippier sprint tyre to the mix created more winners on track but consistent performances and strong strategy kept TeamVodafone high above the rest in the points race.
Whincup would overcome a number of challenges on track and within to fight back in the closing stages and show why he is the class act of the championship. He won 11 races and claimed 6 pole positions in 2009 to seal his second straight driver’s title.
TeamVodafone entered 2010 with the weight of expectation on its shoulders after an off-season switch from Ford to Holden. The champion outfit in 2008 and 2009 managed the monumental task with seamless ease, and dominated the season-opening international events in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. The early-season highlight was most certainly the team’s first race in Holden Commodores, and significantly, their first ever 1-2 finish, with Whincup leading Lowndes to the line under the lights of the Yas Marina Circuit.
This form was built on throughout the season but came to the fore in endurance mode. Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife lived up to their ‘legend’ status, dominating the 500km Phillip Island race as well as the iconic 1000km race at Bathurst. Jamie Whincup and Steve Owen shadowed home the car #888 duo at Mt Panorama for a famous ‘form finish’.
Whincup remained in the race for the driver’s championship until the final, dramatic stages of the last round. He would ultimately claim runner-up for the season, with the combined results of the TeamVodafone drivers handing them a deserved Teams’ championship win.