V8 Championship leader Scott McLaughlin could have a tougher time in Tasmania.
V8 Championship leader Scott McLaughlin could have a tougher time in Tasmania.

Lowndes: changes in Supercars may be a problem for Ford

THE Supercars 2019 season has already been as exciting off the track as it has been in the heat of the action.

Ford's big switch from Falcons to Mustangs created curiosity before the season started, but there has been no doubting the effectiveness of the move.

Defending Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin has won five of the six races in 2019, missing points in just one.

An out-lap collision with Cameron Waters wiped both out of race five, with Tickford Racing's Chaz Mostert taking victory in his Mustang.

But with the Mustang being such a dominant car early in the season, there were bound to be some complaints.

Supercars has implemented a new rule enforcing a centre of gravity shift, with all cars required to make the change.

The Nissan cars stay as is, the Holden Commodore ZBs have to add 6.7kg to the roll cage under the roof and the Mustangs have to add 28kg.

Despite the added weight to the chassis, McLaughlin is desperate to return to the top of the podium again at a track where he's not had much success.

"I plan to go out there and drive the thing 100 per cent and if we win it that's an absolute bonus and obviously we'll stick it up a few people," he said.

Craig Lowndes has switched from driver to commentator.
Craig Lowndes has switched from driver to commentator.

But for V8 Supercars veteran Craig Lowndes, who retired from the championship last year before taking up a role with Fox Sports, the move could make for more even racing at the Tasmania SuperSprint.

"Ford may be struggling to get their head around that balance change, which looks like a good thing for Holden and Nissan," Lowndes told news.com.au.

"At the end of the day, I think we just want parity between all the three manufacturers. Ford have been very good about how they've built the car to start with.

"Supercars are very mindful they don't want a manufacturer or team dominating a category and if they are, they want to investigate why.

"If there is an advantage from one manufacturer to another - and it looks like they've found a difference from the Mustangs to the others."

While the traditional rivals already don't like each other, the move has been instantly effective. Triple Eight's Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen's Holdens were first and second respectively during practice.

In fact, Holdens took the first five places.

It's a stark contrast to the start of the season and McLaughlin's dominance.

Craig Lowndes back in his happy place — behind the wheel of a V8 Supercar.
Craig Lowndes back in his happy place — behind the wheel of a V8 Supercar.

While many were surprised about the rapid rise of the Mustangs, Lowndes said it was similar to what Holden did last year.

"I think that if you go back 12 months when Holden delivered the ZBs, it won a lot of races first-up, no different to what the Mustangs have done for Ford," Lowndes said.

"I'm not too surprised that the Mustangs are competitive but I probably am surprised the Holdens haven't won a race to this point, but it's the early part of the championship.

"I think this weekend will be a very different and more competitive run for the Holden cars."

Tasmania may also not be the best place to understand the difference the centre of gravity changes will make in the series.

It has been a happy hunting ground for Holden drivers, with Ford winning just three races at the venue since 2010.

And Whincup has won 12 times at the track during his career.

After his retirement at the end of last year, Lowndes said he was enjoying his new life on camera with Fox Sports.

"I'm pretty used to being interviewed but I suppose the big difference is when I was driving full-time, you become a bit of a politician when you're answering questions," Lowndes said.

"Now I'm firing the questions at drivers. I suppose I know when drivers aren't telling the truth or are trying to skip around the question."

Lowndes won't be too far away from the track though. He took part in a co-driver practice on Friday.

Craig Lowndes is still as popular as ever.
Craig Lowndes is still as popular as ever.

Lowndes will be jumping back in the car to restart his co-driver relationship with Jamie Whincup during the endurance races later in the year.

Their previous partnership led to three straight Bathurst wins from 2006 and 2008, when both were driving with Ford.

"To be honest, the category made a rule that the two main drivers in a team cannot pair up, which was more directed at us when we won three in a row," Lowndes said.

"Now that I've retired - or semi-retired - we have the ability to pair up again and I'm looking forward to it."

News Corp Australia

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