Balance of strategy and speed key to Winton win say Whincup and Lowndes TeamVodafone drivers Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes have predicted that tyre strategy will play an equally important role alongside outright speed in the fight for...
Balance of strategy and speed key to Winton win say Whincup and Lowndes
TeamVodafone drivers Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes have predicted that tyre strategy will play an equally important role alongside outright speed in the fight for race wins at Winton Motor Raceway this weekend.The third event of the V8 Supercar Championship Series sees the introduction of a softer, grippier 'Sprint' tyre option from Dunlop.Each car will receive an allocation of the new compound alongside the regular 'Control' tyre, and early indications suggest that gains of up to 2 seconds per lap could be made before the rubber rapidly deteriorates.TeamVodafone has been hard at work since its clean sweep of the Hamilton 400, examining a range of on-track scenarios to maximise the advantage the tyre offers.Whincup, who has won four races from four starts and comfortably leads the championship, said this weekend had the potential to shake up the standings with the element of unknown surrounding the Sprint tyre.
"Tyres are the big question mark, and that could throw a real spanner in the works," said Whincup.
"Traditionally our team has handled change very well and I expect they will be right on top of this new tyre."The key will be getting the car to work well on the tyre and then using it at the right time -- I'm sure Dutto (Mark Dutton) will weave his magic."
The rural Victorian circuit has been a happy hunting-ground for the defending champion; he won in 2007 and finished on equal points with round winner Garth Tander in 2008.The 26-year-old has amassed a maximum points haul from the opening two events of the 2009 series, leading Lee Holdsworth by 102 points.Since Bathurst last year, Whincup has recorded a win rate of 82% with 14 victories from 17 starts -- the highest in the championship's 50-year history. Teammate Craig Lowndes is eyeing a return to the race-winning form he showed at the AGP support races.He will have the advantage of extra practice time on the new tyre compound on Friday by virtue of his current championship placing.
"We can draw a positive from myself taking part in the first practice session in that we'll have a chance to evaluate the performance and wear of the new tyre," said Lowndes.
"It will make for an interesting weekend. The Brisbane-based teams will have to get their heads around how the tyre responds on a track like Winton.
"It's an important event for me -- I need to have a good result to get my championship back on track," Lowndes admitted.
A tough trans-Tasman outing saw Lowndes slide to an uncharacteristic 18th place in the championship on 201 points.He is confident of factoring in the results this weekend and taking away a solid bag of points.