Reigning Supercars champion Mark Winterbottom reckons Ford and Holden’s dominance in Darwin could end this weekend.
Winterbottom’s Prodrive Racing Australia and rivals Triple Eight Race Engineering have won the past 11 races at Hidden Valley, dating back to 2012.
But so open has this season been, the Ford poster boy isn’t expecting that streak to continue on Saturday and Sunday.
“I think the trend has changed a bit now to what it has been the previous year,” he told AAP.
“But you never know.”
There have been a staggering nine different winners in the 11 races in 2016 so far.
The championship lead has also changed hands eight times, with drivers from all four manufacturers – Ford, Holden, Nissan and Volvo – on top of the standings at some point.
Just 39 points cover the top four cars, with Winterbottom 27 clear of Volvo gun Scott McLaughlin, and then Commodore drivers Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes.
It followed two podium finishes last round in Winton, the place he began the charge last season towards his first Supercars title.
According to Winterbottom, it’s the third year in a row he’s come to the Top End leading the series.
“We’re in the right spot but it’s pretty tight up the top,” he said.
“One bad race and you could slip down back out of the top four quite easily, but a couple of good races and you could march clear.”
A confident and relaxed Winterbottom is also on the cusp of a record at Hidden Valley Raceway – a pole position will make him the-most successful driver in qualifying at the circuit.
The 35-year-old is tied with V8 legend Mark Skaife on four pole positions at the track.
“To get five poles would be pretty cool,” he said.
“Hopefully, we can get a pole and add to that stat but, most of all, get the race win and extend the lead – that’s the preference.”
Supercars have made a technical change for this year’s event, which is expected to result in top speeds reaching 275km/h down the main straight – about 10km/h faster than the previous limit.
The aim is to improve overtaking heading into turn one and reduce engine stress amid high temperatures.
The round begins with two practice sessions on Friday, ahead of a 42-lap race on Saturday and 70 laps on Sunday.