Supercars: Scott McLaughlin beaten but not bowed
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Late lock-up costs McLaughlin in Adelaide
Ford’s Scott McLaughlin is convinced Shane van Gisbergen is as vulnerable as ever this year despite the defending series champion dominating the Supercars’ season opener in Adelaide.
McLaughlin could not hide his disappointment after he surrendered his race lead to Holden’s van Gisbergen when he locked up on turn nine with just three laps left in Adelaide’s second 250km first round event.
The stage had been set for DJR Team Penske - run by US motorsport great Roger Penske - to finally break the vice-like grip on the championship by van Gisbergen’s Red Bull Racing (RBR) team and notch their maiden race victory in 2017.
Shane van Gisbergen celebrates his victory, with Scott McLaughlin, right, second. Picture/ Edge Photographic.
RBR have won five of the last six drivers’ championships. And Holden has won every race in Adelaide since 2013.
Now in the third year of his collaboration with Dick Johnson Racing, the hard marking Penske had demanded results in 2017.
Especially after poaching ex-Volvo driver McLaughlin who finished a career-high third in last year’s drivers championship.
And McLaughlin appeared poised to notch that long awaited maiden win in the opening round’s closing 78-lap race on Sunday.
Yet his late gaffe opened the door for van Gisbergen to extend his Supercars dominance. Still, McLaughlin reckoned van Gisbergen was ripe for the picking in 2017. Even though van Gisbergen won both the season-opening round’s two 250km races in convincing style.
“He can be beaten - anyone can be,” McLaughlin said of fellow Kiwi van Gisbergen.
“I’m feeling confident this season but I’m just gutted (at the moment).
“I lead the race and controlled it but in the last few laps I lost it - but I am human and that is just how I am.
“I really thought today was the going to be the day where we would get that first win.
“There is a lot of promise there but I’m kicking myself.”
McLaughlin admitted he is still adjusting to his new Falcon which he felt contributed to his late lockup.
“I’m not confident with the brake package at the moment and I’m still getting used to that,” he said.
“I just overstepped the mark and when you lock the rears you are done.”
Meanwhile, DJR Team Penske manager Ryan Story said they were cutting McLaughlin some slack after his late race two gaffe.
“I think he was just disappointed, he came on the radio and apologised but let me tell you he’s got nothing to be sorry for, he’s done an awesome job all weekend,” he told speedcafe website.
“You can’t take away from the fact that our race pace is not at the level Shane (van Gisbergen) was able to demonstrate this weekend."
Van Gisbergen leads the series standings with a perfect 300 point haul ahead of McLaughlin’s Ford teammate Fabian Coulthard and Holden’s James Courtney (both 249pts).