The increased use of hard tyres in the 2015 V8 Supercars Championship is an important reason Red Bull Racing Australia is struggling to match its rivals at the front of the field.
But team manager Mark Dutton says RBRA is confident the long gap to the June 19-21 SKYCITY Triple Crown Darwin SuperSprint would give it the opportunity to develop the parts and processes to enable it to lift its act.
"We will improve the job we have been doing lately that is for sure," Dutton told v8supercars.com.au. "But whether other people will continue to improve in front of us is the question I can't answer."
So far in 2015 six-time champion Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes have won four races between them, while across the same four events in the 2014 championship they won six.
Whincup runs fourth in the drivers' Championship after claiming only a best finish of ninth at his Winton bogey track last time out, while Lowndes drove an outstanding stint on the soft tyre in the Sunday double points 200km race at the NP300 Navara Winton SuperSprint to finish third. He is second on the points table, 12 points behind Prodrive Racing Australia's Mark Winterbottom.
However, RBRA continues to sit atop the team's Championship, 75 points ahead of PRA.
PRA has won five times in the championship this year, with four wins for Winterbottom and one for team-mate Chaz Mostert. Other winners include BJR's Fabian Coulthard, HRT's James Courtney and Erebus Motorsport's Will Davison.
Dutton confirmed the hard tyre issue while also reaffirming the team's belief in its New Generation Holden Commodore VF V8 Supercar, saying much of the performance gain required would come from better understanding the car.
"We think we think we have the cars to do the job as is," he said. "We can do a better job and still win with what we have got.
"But everything is an evolution; we just have to make sure we are exploring every avenue, whether it's developing physical components or developing knowledge and understanding of using the components we have.
"So when I say developing it's not always actual physical parts; its process, it's understanding ... it's a big gap (to Darwin) and we are filling it with lots of hard work."
A crucial difference between the 2014 and 2015 Championship structure is the increased use of the Dunlop hard control tyre. Last year, the Symmons Plains, Barbagallo Raceway and Winton events were conducted entirely on soft tyres.
This year they were predominantly hard tyre, with a single set of soft tyres allocated for use during the double points Sunday 200km races.
While Whincup and Lowndes dominated in Tasmania, their hard tyre issues were clear in WA and at Winton, where RBRA have had mixed fortunes ever since the introduction of the New Generation V8 Supercar in 2013.
Whincup managed just one podium across the two events in both 2014 and 2015, while Lowndes has won once, finished second twice and third twice.
"Last year you had hard tyre rounds and then you had soft tyre rounds and this year they are a lot more mixed," explained Dutton.
"It is about getting the best balance out of the cars. The soft tyres have worked better for us; we can achieve a better balance with our usual sort of tools. With the hard tyre, it is testing us to achieve the balance we are chasing.
"We have to have some more lateral thinking about different ways to achieve that because we are very good at tuning the balance on the soft tyres, but with the hard tyre the same tools aren't working the same way."
Dutton's explanation is similar to that of Wilson Security Racing GRM chief engineer Richard Holloway, who last week revealed the team's battle to find a set-up that worked for the hard as well as soft tyre.
RBRA has traditionally had strong form in Darwin. Last year Whincup and Lowndes ran 1-2 on the Saturday as they signalled a return to strong form. Winterbottom won on Sunday, but it was the high point of his season as Whincup then inexorably took control.
But Dutton admitted he was unsure how strong RBRA would be at the Hidden Valley circuit because in 2015 the track has been resurfaced.
"We used to have an excellent record on what you would call new tracks ... so we need to make sure we can relive our past glories by adapting quicker than our opposition.
"Darwin will be big. It's an important round."