CELEBRATING SUCCESS: Supercars championship frontrunner Scott McLaughlin hopes to be spraying more champagne at Queensland Raceway this weekend.
CELEBRATING SUCCESS: Supercars championship frontrunner Scott McLaughlin hopes to be spraying more champagne at Queensland Raceway this weekend. EDGE Photographics/Mark Horsburgh

Lessons that help top sportsmen become the best

HAVING come so close to winning his first Supercars championship last season, Scott McLaughlin is in a familiar position at the halfway stage of this year's high intensity series.

After leading for most of the 2017 season, he received three race penalties in the final round in Newcastle. That allowed seasoned performer Jamie Whincup to sneak ahead and clinch his seventh championship in a riveting finale.

However, elite competitive sportsmen like McLaughlin soak up every race high and low in their quest to be the best.

Preparing to race his Shell V-Power Ford Falcon in Ipswich this weekend, the championship leader conceded he had learnt from having a title virtually ripped from his grip after a year of hard work.

"Every result counts,'' McLaughlin said, offering a realistic and balanced perspective from last year's experience.

"You can't win every race. I came with a great car and I thought I could and I probably overdrove to try and do that.

"So now, it's about being consistent and get the points, and that will be the difference in me this year.''

Having enjoyed past success at Queensland Raceway, McLaughlin has another reason to be confident about this weekend's round in Ipswich.

He recently relocated to South East Queensland, strengthening links with the Willowbank circuit.

"Off track it's nice, the weather is beautiful,'' McLaughlin said, of his move.

"It's a bit closer to the team.

"It's fantastic and a lot easier for me as well so I'm really enjoying it.''

With age on his side and working hard on his fitness, 25-year-old McLaughlin said his motorsport goal was simple.

"I'm just trying to make myself the best I can be before I get in the car and I know when I get in the car, I've got a car that wins races every time,'' he said. "That's really cool.''

McLaughlin leads the championship on 2033 points, after six race wins, eight pole positions and 13 podium finishes already.

However, he is mindful of the chasers including the consistent second placed Shane van Gisbergen (1902), Bathurst champion David Reynolds (1646), defending champion Jamie Whincup (1630) and Ipswich crowd favourite Craig Lowndes (1602).

"It's nice to be in the lead and there's not much more we can do,'' he said, sounding relaxed about the weekend ahead.

"So we've just got to keep consolidating some good points and we should be okay.''

However, he's taking nothing for granted after 16 pole positions and eight race wins last season, including his good record at Willowbank.

"It's nice to get back on to a home track but it's a home track for a lot of people so we've just got to try and make the best out of everything,'' McLaughlin said.

Although the Shell V-Power Racing Team recently did some testing at Willowbank, McLaughlin conceded it was always challenging trying to improve a car running so well.

"It's hard you know,'' he said.

"You think you've made a lot of gains but it's also hard with the tyres and stuff.

"We've found a good set-up for us to start this weekend, which is nice. We found out a few things that the car does, some of our changes.

"It was useful that's for sure.''

As for the championship battle hotting up, McLaughlin said "anyone in that top five is right there'', especially with the 300 point endurance races looming.

"A bad result by me, a bad result by Shane and everyone is back into it,'' he said.

"Shane is the closest one.

"He's probably the main one I'm watching out for at the moment but anything can happen.''


Ipswich SuperSprint, Community Day.
Scott McLaughlin signs autographs for fans in Ipswich. Cordell Richardson

Down-to-earth approach

NEW Zealand-bred Scott McLaughlin is not only a leader on the race track. The current Supercars pacesetter also sets high standards wanting to engage with fans.

McLaughlin was one of the most popular drivers at Saturday's Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint Community Day at Orion Shopping Centre.

"I think it's a great thing that Supercars do,'' McLaughlin said of the fan days.

"Not many of the sports do it and allow fans to be so close to the people that are on TV and whatever. It's great.

"It really shows that we are probably a little bit more down-to-earth than some people think.''