Winton a big challenge for Frosty and Co

THIRD-placed driver Mark Winterbottom's chances of winning his first V8 Supercars Championship in his final year as a Ford factory driver will face a key challenge at this weekend's NP300 Navara Winton SuperSprint.

Winterbottom (pictured) will race a new Falcon FG X for the first time. He said if the new car showed strong pace on the tight and twisting 3.0km Victorian circuit, that should bode well for the rest of his championship attack in the Prodrive Racing Australia-developed Ford.

Winterbottom is nipping on the heels of leader Craig Lowndes (717) and James Courtney (665) on 643 points.

"Winton is going to be a test because the car is a little bit lazy in the front, so getting it to turn at Winton is going to be the big challenge," Winterbottom said.

Meanwhile, fourth-placed Fabian Coulthard said he was in negotiations with Brad Jones Racing for a contract extension.