Four reasons to remain positive in 2020

| Photographer Credit: Lee Howell

Look, I was feeling really positive about pretty much everything up until Sunday afternoon – when I read, here on Talk Motorsport, about Motorsport New Zealand and its race championship promotor, Speed Works Events’ decision not to hold a round of their 2020/21 NZ title ‘summer’ series in the South Island…….

Then a big, fat, black cloud emerged out of nowhere in particular and I could feel the negativity creep back into my thought processes.

“Why even try to run an NZ championship title series when you are running at circuits in one of the Islands?” was one of the first thoughts that crossed my mind.

Another was along the lines of “Gee, this could well be the straw that breaks the camels back. If circuits like Levels and Teretonga find that they can continue to operate – and do so at a profit – without their usual summer NZ Championship titles round – will they flip the bird to Speed Works Events main man Geoff Short this time next year?”

Right now, I’d say that that is a distinct possibility. IN 6-8 months’, time who knows. But my thoughts right now is that the move to ghetto-ise Motorsport NZ’s annual race championship series to tracks in the North Island is the wrong one and will come back to bite both Speed Works Events and Motorsport NI… (sorry, my mistake, that should have read Motorsport NZ) big time.

This of course is just my opinion. And this week’s column was originally going to be all ‘ra’ ‘ra’ about some of the good things that have been going on of late both on the local and international motorsport scenes.

So that, for now is all I’m going to say on this particular matter.

Here, as I go back to my original column plan are four things, we should be celebrating about Kiwi motorsport right now.

Scott McLaughlin carrying the ‘spoils’ at The Bend

1/ Scott McLaughlin’s Virgin Australia Supercars championship ‘three- peat.’

Winning a race in a category as close and competitive as eh Supercars one is hard enough, let alone a single series title. Yet, yet, yet our very own Scottie McLaughlin has now (provisionally anyway) won not one, not two (that was last year), but three in a row for himself and his Shell V-Power-backed DJR Team Penske Ford squad. He’s done it in style too, combining the clinical efficiency of title rival Jamie Whincup with the street smarts of a Mark Skaife or Greg Murphy. Not only is McLaughlin the first Kiwi ever to claim three consecutive Virgin Australia Supercar Championship titles, the Christchurch-born, Hamilton-raised 27-year-old is only the fourth driver in the history of Touring Car racing across the Tasman to do so after Ian Geoghegan (1966-69), Mark Skaife (2000-2002) and Jamie Whincup (2011-14).

2/ Team Penske confirming plans to have Scott McLaughlin race an IndyCar at the season finale round at St Petersburg, Florida, next month.

Yes I know it’s kind of confusing but Team Penske has confirmed that it intends to run Scott McLaughlin in the #3 Dallara-Chevrolet at the final round of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Championship Series at the ST Petersburg, FLA, road course over eh October 24-24 weekend.

Scottie, you might remember completed a successful rookie evaluation at Sebring and was due to make his debut in the US single seater series at the Indianapolis road course earlier in the year before the COVID19 situation put a spanner in the works. Now Scott has just got the defence of his 2019 Bathurst 1000 title to go (over the October 17-18 weekend) before he flies to the US for his first proper race run in an IndyCar.

Shane van Gisbergen at Bathurst in 2019

3/ Bathurst is less than a month away

This time of year, is always ‘Bathurst time’ in the MacKay household, and though the signature Supercars event’s date has bounced around a bit because of the whole COVID-19 pandemic thing at least ‘The Big Race ‘is on again. There’s always some sort of drama ahead of it as well though this year everyone seems to have become caught up in the Supercar series itself Bathurst has escaped. It won’t be long though before someone, somewhere dredges up ‘Fabiangate’ and the floodgates will open. Like last year you’d have to be a person of strong opinion and knowledge to bet against Scott McLaughlin winning the race for a second time. Though being Bathurst, anything can happen and usually does. If not him? Then I think it’s time for Shane Van Gisbergen to step up and get to enjoy the view from the top step of the podium this year!

Brendon Hartley

4/ Brendon Hartley earns his second win in the Le Mans 24 Hour race

A week might be a long time in politics, but two weeks seems an eternity in motor racing. It was, however, only a fortnight ago (Sept 29/20) that Kiwi International Brendon Hartley won the Le Mans 24-hour race for a second time. Last time – in 2017 – it was in a Porsche. This time in a Toyota TSO50 Hybrid he shared with Sébastien Beumi and Kazuki Nakajima.

An incredible achievement!

Ross MacKay

Ross MacKay is an award-winning journalist, author and publicist with first-hand experience of motorsport from a lifetime competing on two and four wheels. He currently combines a day job editing NZ4WD magazine with contract media work, weekend Mountain Bike missions and towing his 1989 Nissan Skyline drifter to grassroots meetings around the North Island.

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