Shell V-Power Ford Racing’s Scott McLaughlin looks a worried man. And that is a good thing! After the 1-2-3 trouncing of the Australian Supercars Championship field at the Sandown 500 by the Triple Eight Race Engineering, their rivals will be digging deep in order to ‘plug the gap’ in performance, so to speak! With the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 following on from Sandown, the competition and rivalry just got better.
Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell led a sweep of the Sandown 500 podium with Shane van Gisbergen and fellow Kiwi Earl Bamber second and Craig Lowndes and Steven Richards third. Sandown was not necessarily a ‘one-off’ for the Triple Eight team. They have won the last five Supercars races and are clearly a step ahead of the pursuing pack.
McLaughlin and team mate Fabian Coulthard’s only boast for the weekend was they were the first two Fords to finish (fourth and seventh). McLaughlin appeared to be rung-out by the whole experience and wondering what the solution will be in his fight for the title
“We had to go above and beyond with our set-up this weekend to try to combat the pace of the Holdens,” commented McLaughlin. “We tried things all weekend, some of which worked and some of which didn’t. We definitely improved over the weekend, and our race pace was much better than it had been all weekend, but we still had a deficit, especially in a straight line.”
On a positive note, McLaughlin has been finishing races. Particularly important was the Red Rooster Sydney SuperNight 300 race worth double points. Van Gisbergen won with Whincup second and McLaughlin third. To have had a dnf in that race would have been detrimental for any driver’s title chase. Last season McLaughlin did not finish at Bathurst and that was a pivotal moment as it allowed Whincup to stay in the title chase which he won at the last round.
Bathurst we know has many variables that determine a winner. Speed isn’t everything, luck is paramount and often can fall either way for any team.
McLaughlin and Coulthard’s team will not be resting and with the backing of Team Penske, we know that they will be at their very best for Mount Panarama.
The 2019 Supercheap Auto Bahturst 1000 just got better. It is a race to look forward too.