Team Vodafone will eye a return to form at Winton Raceway this weekend as the team goes for three V8 Supercar Championship wins on the trot at the rural Victorian circuit.
Last season, Jamie Whincup recovered from a lowly 20th on the grid in qualifying to storm through the field, with the team expertly managing an onslaught of wet weather to take a hard-fought round win.
Heading into this weekend's return, Whincup acknowledged that the new Dunlop control tyre compound was taking some time to get to grips with and said getting a handle on setup in practice would be paramount this weekend.
“The reality is we are not at our peak at the moment and to win races we need to be at our peak,” he said. “We have encountered a few obstacles which we need to overcome like the new tyre compound, but in saying that we are not far off our best, it just goes to show how close this championship really is, as soon as you let your guard down there are a number of teams ready to pounce.
“I personally have changed my approach and training to ensure I am both physically and mentally fit for this weekend's round at Winton and I know the team has been working extremely hard as well.”
Lowndes, the round winner in 2006, said Winton presented a variety of challenges to teams.
"This is potentially the coldest track we go to, so getting temperature into the tyres when its needed is a big issue," he said. "Passing is another factor - it is a notoriously difficult circuit to pass on so qualifying at the front is imperative. The new tyre compound has forced us to alter our approach to practice in order to secure a good grid spot.
"Pit strategy will play a crucial role in the outcome of the weekend so a clever and flexible strategy, like the one which Jamie used to win last year, is needed."