The fast and flowing Albert Park circuit will provide a true test of the new ZB Commodore’s potential, according to Craig Lowndes.
Holden’s latest generation Supercar has already been tested at the high-speed Sydney Motorsport Park before its highly impressive race debut on the streets of Adelaide earlier this month.
Now it will face its next challenge by tackling Melbourne’s unique Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit, which is regarded as an accurate barometer of a car’s aerodynamics.
While the Triple Eight-developed Commodore claimed five of the six podium finishes at Adelaide, Lowndes believes next weekend’s inaugural Australian Grand Prix championship round will offer a clearer picture of the car’s capabilities.
“We will go into the weekend with a lot of confidence,” Lowndes told Speedcafe.com.
“Ford has been quite dominant, they won all the races there last year.
“This will be a good challenge to see where we are at with the car.
“There is no doubt straight-line speed will be massively important and we need to maximise that to get the overall balance in the sweet spot for the back chicane.”
Lowndes says the arrival of the new car coupled with the 2018 specification Dunlop tyres has rejuvenated his spirits this year after a difficult winless campaign last year.
While his Adelaide 500 was hampered by two mistakes in qualifying that saw him battle back to ninth and seventh from 15th and 17th positions, he has witnessed enough to suggest the package can guide him back to the podium.
“I think with the style that I drive, this car helps with that along with the new Dunlop tyre,” he added.
“We had good race pace on the 2016 tyre and the 2018 tyre is similar to that.
“Qualifying was my achilles heel, we always had good race pace to be able to drive back but we were too far back. That was a combination of not being able to switch on that tyre and get a balance for that.
“Again the tyre change and the car change definitely suits my style more.
“The change in the tyre and the car has definitely helped my motivation to push on and believe that we can get podiums and race wins.”
The Australian Grand Prix meeting will see Supercars race for championship points for the first time, adding a new element to this year’s visit.
Traditionally a non-championship round, Albert Park offered teams a pressure-free weekend, but Lowndes believes that is all set to change now.
“It is exciting. Finally we go to the Australian Grand Prix with something to win or lose,” he said.
“We have come as a support act for so many years and it didn’t really matter what you did in terms of results, as long as you got something coming out of it.
“Now it is part of the championship there is a different mindset going into it.
“You really have to maximise on getting the most out of the car in those two short practice sessions.”
Supercars will contest four races over the Australian Grand Prix weekend including two 13 lap sprint races and a pair of twilight 25 lap pit stop races.