Winterbottom’s high expectations are fuelled by a promising 2020 season that saw him and teammate Scott Pye finish in 10th and ninth in the points respectively.
The team has also bolstered its engineering stocks over the break, recruiting the highly-rated Richard Hollway to oversee race engineers Manuel Sanchez and Phil Keed.
That’s left Winterbottom confident his third campaign with the squad can provide his first race win in a Holden.
“We announce every year how hungry we are to win, but with the progression of this team, I’m heading into this new season feeling revamped and more determined than ever to get back to the top,” said the 2015 series champion.
“It’s a great feeling heading into a new year with the same engineer and crew, but we’ve complemented that with the recruitment of Richard Hollway in the engineering department. He’s worked with Manuel for seven years previously, so they already have that rapport and working relationship, and it feels like he’s been here for years already.
“We’re in a great position, we’ve got great staff, great equipment and we’re as hungry as ever. It’s time for Team 18 to get up the front and chase those wins.”
Team 18 owner Charlie Schwerkolt shares Winterbottom’s optimism, with the top four in the teams’ championship the clear target.
“2020 was a year when Team 18 stood up with multiple podiums in our first-year as a two-car squad,” he said. “So for 2021 we want to take the next step forward and be a consistent force in the Supercars championship.
“With the drivers, the crew and the technical nous behind us, we really have what it takes to become a top four team in this championship.
“[Winterbottom] joined our team looking for an environment to build and prosper, and from the outset he has shared my vision of the team and where we’re headed.
“He’s as fit, fast and determined as I’ve ever seen him and I believe in 2021 we’ll see the fruits of his hard work.”
Winterbottom will sport a revised Irwin Tools livery for the new season, featuring more blue on the front bar and the addition of ‘Bunnings green’ on the rear flanks.
He’ll debut the new look at the delayed Winton pre-season test next Friday.