Fabian Coulthard's flying under radar
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Kiwi Supercars driver Fabian Coulthard seems to be the forgotten man heading into this weekend's opening V8 round on the streets of Adelaide.
The 35-year-old is rated fifth favourite for the title by the bookmakers while fans are talking about the rivalry between seven-times champ Jamie Whincup and Coulthard's teammate Scott McLaughlin flowing over from last year's final race that decided the championship.
But people forget Coulthard led the championship for large parts of 2017.
"I've always been over-shadowed throughout my career so it doesn't come as a surprise," Coulthard told the Herald. "The pressure is not on me. I put enough pressure on myself to perform let alone external pressures.
"I want to succeed for myself and for the team but the way things are going I am the guy flying under the radar. It doesn't bother me. It has been like that throughout my career."
While may not be getting the headlines right now, Coulthard has a steely focus.
"We race to win. I have won junior categories — Formula Ford, Carrera Cup — and I've raced Supercars wanting to achieve exactly the same thing I've done in every other championship.
"It is a big goal of mine but there are 26 others that have the same goal. It is the toughest touring car championship in the world."
Fabian Coulthard wins race 1of the WD-40 Phillip Island 500, at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circui, Phillip Island, Victoria, April 22, 2017. Photo / Edge Photographics
Like McLaughlin, Coulthard was left to ponder what might have been over summer. Although disappointed with how it finished, the popular Kiwi was stoked with helping his crew to the team championship.
"Our goal was to become the team's champion — that is something no one has been able to achieve for many years," he said. "To tick that box was the highest on the list.
"To be so close to a championship — I led most of the year — I was unlucky at a few events. New Zealand was probably the biggest highlight for me when I ended up on my roof. That is all part of racing.
"Townsville and New Zealand were the two bad ones for me.
"At the end of the day it was the best year I have had in Supercars in a competitive package. We were consistent — we went to every round knowing we were capable of podiums and race wins.
"It is something I have been trying to achieve my whole career — to align myself with the right people, be in the right team and in a competitive car."
Coulthard will start the season refreshed having enjoyed his summer with twins Mackenzie and Carter, who were born in October, and partner Becky.
"I've had to remain focused and do training and fit in dad life as well so it has been a pretty good balance."