Scott gears up for historic title triple treat
DEFENDING two-time Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin says his second-year Mustang is capable of going faster again in 2020 despite forced changes aimed at tighter racing between his dominant Ford and its rival Commodores.
And the DJR Team Penske pilot insists he can defy parity measures as well as the history books to become just the third driver in 40 years to claim a title three-peat by winning this year's crown.
"There's no reason we can't improve again," McLaughlin said.
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"We worked hard in the off-season to get an understanding of the new suspension and aero. We're effectively starting at 0 points with the car we have, but we'll get a bit of a feel for it at Tailem Bend (at the official Supercars pre-season test day) a couple of days before Adelaide 500.
"We're pretty confident we'll be there or thereabouts and hit the ground running."
This year's Mustang fleet - which grows by two with Kelly Racing's switch from Nissan - will have its rear wings lowered and moved forward following the category's intensive off-season aerodynamic testing in December and January.
Included in changes is a push by Supercars to reduce downforce across the field by as much as 12 per cent compared with last season, in a bid to encourage more passing and exciting racing.
McLaughlin enters the 2020 season aiming to emulate Jamie Whincup (four straight titles, from 2011 to 2014) and Mark Skaife (2000 to 2002) as the only drivers in the past 40 years to win three successive driver championships.
The only other man to do so was Ian Geohagen, who claimed four straight between 1966 and 1969 - also in a Ford Mustang.
Legends including Craig Lowndes, Dick Johnson, Jim Richards, Allan Moffat and Marcos Ambrose have notched back-to-back titles but never a hat-trick.
McLaughlin said despite the statistics weighted against him, he had no intention of conceding his throne.
"It was absolutely improbable last year that we would win 18 races, and we went out there and did the best job we could with what we had," he said.
"That's what we have to do again this year. If I win this year I'll be the first to win their maiden championship and then gone on to do the triple - but there's a lot of water to go under the bridge before that happens.
"I'm feeling good, fit, relaxed, so I can't see any reason why I can't have a good shot at it."
McLaughlin swept last year's Adelaide 500 and said a storming start here again this month was central to his title defence.
"You really need a good run at the start of the year in Adelaide, to get yourself going," he said. "You don't want to come out of there 150 points behind because you end up chasing tail all year.
"It's two big races where lots can go wrong. Last year was the first time I got two good results out of here.
"If we come away with two top fives, I'm happy with that."