Fast forward some eight months and we find the rumour to be true.
Jamie Whincup (the 2008 champion and current points leader) and Craig Lowndes (three time series Champion, ironically all with Holden) will be swapping the blue oval for the red lion. Ordinarily this wouldn't be such a huge deal...teams flip flop depending on who looks to be the better option after all (why else would Robby Gordon go through each manufacturer in the last 4 years?)...but this isn't a midfield team. The equivalent would be Rick Hendrick holding a press conference tomorrow saying they'd be using Dodges for 2010.
Lowndes behind the wheel of his Triple Eight Ford.
Now, unlike a lot of V8 fans, I'm not all that fussed over which brand to support as I have my favourite drivers and follow them, regardless of what they drive. But this is a pretty big thing as it also answers the question of whether Whincup would head offshore or stay in V8 Supercars.
Team Vodafone came into the series in 2004, under the umbrella of Triple Eight Racing. They had a proven pedigree in motorsport, having won 12 British Touring Car titles but struggled in their debut year, the drivers finishing 19th (Paul Radisich) and 28th (Max Wilson) in points. 2005 saw Craig Lowndes join the team in place of Radisich and Steve Ellery replacing Wilson. Lowndes nearly snatched the title away from the, at the time, all-conquering Stone Brothers Racing duo of Russell Ingall and Marcos Ambrose but still, second place in the points was a huge form reversal from the year before.
Jamie Whincup was then put in Ellery's seat for 2006, making an immediate impression by winning the first race of the season at Adelaide. This also marked the beginning of their Bathurst domination. 2007 saw no driver changes but the sponsor did; out went Betta Electrical and in came Vodafone. This didn't really slow them down but the championship eluded them yet again, this time Whincup got beat out by Garth Tander.
Whincup leads the field...a usual sight in 2009.
Which leads us nicely to now.
Having thoroughly dominated 2008 and the first half of 2009, why did Ford let them go? Only they know but Holden must be relishing the idea of rubbing Ford's noses in it when the 2010 season opener comes around.
Statistics for Triple Eight Racing/Team Vodafone since 2004:
race wins - 11
round wins - 20
pole positions - 4
driver titles - 1 (2008)
constructor titles - 1 (2008)