His Ford is already leading the V8 Supercars pack but Mark Winterbottom reckons it’ll get even quicker in rounds to come.
The 32-year-old walked away from Auckland with a 107-point advantage over Holden’s Craig Lowndes on the overall standings after collecting two wins and a second-place finish in the weekend’s four races.
Winterbottom’s victories made the FG Falcon the most successful Ford in championship history with 52 race wins in six years.
But the reigning Bathurst winner said his car still lacked the straight-line speed of his rivals – particularly Volvo.
“It’s been proving in results where we stand on the engine speed to other people,” Winterbottom said.
“Our guys are doing a great job with what we’ve got, but there’s going to be changes for sure.
“Places like Tassie it really shows up – when you go down a straight, in a sector you’re a tenth (of a second) down.
“We’re getting away with it (at the moment), but I’m sure it’ll change.”
While he wouldn’t go into detail about the changes, Winterbottom said team had a few tricks left up their sleeve that he hopes will make a difference with 10 rounds still remaining.
“We’ve got componentry coming, which is cool,” he added.
“I know what I need out of the car to improve it a little bit – we’ve got those bits now but we just can’t put them in because practice is just too short.”
The championship next heads to Perth, where Winterbottoms hopes Ford’s good tyre life will work in his favour at the brutal Barbagallo track.
“We’re competitive to most, it’s just a couple of cars that we need to improve on,” he said.
The news could put another dent in rival Triple Eight’s hopes of collecting another title this season.
Defending champion Jamie Whincup has endured his longest run without a podium (seven races) since 2006 – the year he joined the team – and now sits sixth on the leaderboard.
He dropped a spot on the rankings after managing two fourth-place finishes, a 10th and 24th over the weekend.
“I’m not sure anything paid off at the weekend between mechanical failures and red flags going against us but that’s not an excuse – we didn’t put ourselves in the right position and we just weren’t quick enough,” said Whincup, chasing a record sixth crown.
Lowndes also had a shocker despite featuring on the podium on Friday, but retains his second spot overall.