Scott McLaughlin on the perfect Pukekohe lap
One of the standout performers at last year's ITM 500 at Pukekohe was Kiwi Scott McLaughlin. He talks us through a flying lap of the Grand Old Dame of New Zealand race tracks.
I don't want to give too many secrets away, but here goes.
A flying lap starts quite early from the hairpin. You have to carry enough speed across the last couple of corners to make sure you're carrying enough speed down the front straight.
It's crazy bumpy into Turn One and the car is moving around everywhere, going nuts. You brake about 50m out, go down a gear and grab the throttle early, riding the kerb a little, which will hold you in the corner.
Next is the quick combination of Turns Two, Three and Four, a tough part of the track you have to get right for a good sector-one time. At Turn Two, you take a lot of kerb, getting up on to two wheels and dropping into second gear. The next two, especially Turn Four, are vital to get right so you can carry as much speed on to the long back straight as possible.
You have to watch you don't get too much of the saw-tooth kerbing coming out of Turn Four because it can wear out the tyres quickly. You also have to make sure your shift changes are nice and clean.
At the 150m mark, you brake for the new complex of Turns Five, Six and Seven. There's new pavement down there and the car feels different and a bit slippery. You take a bit of kerb through Five and then can get quite narrow for Six because there's a lot of camber to hold the car in. You can set yourself up for a pass at the Hairpin (Turn Eight) here and through Seven.
The Hairpin, you can take a hundred different ways. You can turn in late, early or anywhere in between and take it in either first or second gear. The trick is to get through it as fast as possible and look after the tyres. I normally go in quite high and cut the corner late and I'm normally in first gear.
Coming off the Hairpin, you have to go easy on the throttle so you don't chew up the tyres. Turns Nine and Ten are pretty much flat out and then there's just a short jab on the brake heading into Turn 11.
Your car has to be set up the best it can to get up and over the mountain quickly. It's a hard place to get through fast and under control, especially if you're a Kiwi leading the race. You come around there and the crowd is going mad, which can be distracting.
It's probably one of my favourite pieces of track in the championship. On a quality lap, you're just hanging on in there, just being a passenger. That's pretty much it for a lap and then you do it all again.
As told to Eric Thompson, NZ Herald.