A new car, new team and new engineer signal a fresh start for Craig Lowndes as he enters his 20th year in V8 Supercars.
But change isn’t always easy for a veteran of more than 580 races.
Lowndes, chasing his fourth championship title but first since 1999, will contest the 2016 season as a sole trader under the TeamVortex banner.
While his Holden Commodore has still been built and prepared by Triple Eight Race Engineering, he is moving out of the Red Bull Racing garage now occupied by Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen.
The split wasn’t exactly Lowndes’ choice, rather the result of Triple Eight boss Roland Dane’s decision to expand to three cars and sign Kiwi van Gisbergen.
“It is a change, but it’s an exciting change,” Lowndes told AAP after unveiling his car to the public on Wednesday.
“It’s a bit of a new start.
“We’ll have the data and all the information from the Red Bull cars, but to run our own show will be different to what I’m used to and what I’ve done over the last five, six years.
“For me, it’s a great opportunity, a great challenge and I think as the year goes on we’ll refine how we do it and how we operate.”
The 41-year-old’s No.888 entry will be engineered by motor racing mastermind Ludo Lacroix, who has been with the team since 1999 and in Australia since 2003.
Lacroix has been instrumental in their success, helping guide Whincup to a record six V8 titles.
He replaces Grant McPherson, who will be van Gisbergen’s engineer after just one year with Lowndes.
Other than a different voice over the radio, Lowndes reckons little will change for him under Lacroix.
“It’ll probably take a little bit of time to gel out all the little small innuendos – the way I talk and the way he interprets – but I don’t think it’ll take too long at all,” he said.
V8 Supercars on Wednesday also confirmed the pit-lane order for 2016.
As last year’s team champions, Red Bull retains the No.1 garages for Whincup and van Gisbergen, while Lowndes will share the second with Will Davison’s Tekno Holden.
Ford’s defending champion Mark Winterbottom will take garage three with a yet-to-be-announced Prodrive Racing Australia driver.
The season begins with Adelaide’s Clipsal 500 from March 3.