Supercars rivals, team owners heap praise on 'the great' Scott McLaughlin
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The elephant in the corner of the room right now with the 2019 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship is that current points leader, Scott McLaughlin, could well have his second championship crown sewn up before the series even gets to the final round in Newcastle.
The immensely popular 25-year-old currently holds a commanding 244-point lead over teammate Fabian Coulthard, six rounds into a 15-round championship in which 300 points maximum are offered each weekend. Thus far, McLaughlin has won 10 races out of a possible 14; a victory ratio unheard of in the last decade.
Two weekends ago that dominance continued, with another pair of wins for McLaughlin at Winton Raceway — where Tickford Racing boss Tim Edwards was among those to comment on the level of achievement.
“You see this every now and again. We saw it for years with [Jamie] Whincup as well. Sometimes drivers are just in the zone and become almost a bit of an enigma," he said, speaking to Supercars.com.
“The confidence levels are up, and he’s obviously a very strong qualifier.”
“We’re in a period of greatness and I think we should stop and respect just how good this young bloke is,” added Mark Larkham, former Supercars team owner and current member of the Fox Sports commentary squad.
“He’s not just getting the driving bit right, he’s getting the car set-up right, the strategy stuff right, and he’s getting the starts right. Well done Scott McLaughlin, you’re a class act.”
For Edwards in particular, McLaughlin's results will have been a topic of curiosity. His Tickford team also debuted Ford Mustangs this year for drivers Chaz Mostert, Lee Holdsworth, Cameron Waters, and satellite driver Will Davison. But, they've yet to be able to get the same speed from their Mustang package, with just one win coming so far (Mostert at the Australian GP).
The other team watching with strong interest is the Red Bull Holden Racing Team. Entering the year as equal-shot title contenders with seven-time champion Jamie Whincup and 2016 title winner Shane van Gisbergen, they've since struggled to show consistency. Many have linked this to the team's shift from a twin-spring to a linear spring set-up during the off-season.
“The most interesting thing is why only one car in that camp [Shell V-Power Racing] has that pace,” Red Bull HRT team manager Mark Dutton told Supercars.com.
“We've seen in the past, when Jamie [Whincup] was on song, especially with his qualifying performances, he'd be sometimes a decent gap to Lowndesy [Craig Lowndes] in P2. Sometimes they'd be right on each other, sometimes there would be a big gap.
“It's definitely not unheard of, because history shows it's happened before.”
The next round of the series is the Darwin Triple Crown at Hidden Valley Raceway on June 15–16.