Shane van Gisbergen offers McLaughlin championship advice
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Kiwi Scott McLaughlin and Supercars championship leader Jamie Whincup go head-to-head for the title at the season finale on the streets of Newcastle this weekend.
Just 30 points separate the two drivers heading into a weekend where 300 points are up for grabs.
This time last year Whincup's Red Bull Holden Racing teammate Shane van Gisbergen claimed his maiden title and became the first Kiwi in 25 years to be crowned champion.
While van Gisbergen will be doing his bit to help Whincup, has some advice for his Kiwi rival McLaughlin having found out how to handle to pressure of racing for the title 12 months ago.
"Everyone is different how they react to pressure," van Gisbergen told The Herald. "If I had any advice it would be to drive like your normal self. For me, last year I went in there and on the first day I drove like someone I'm not and was just trying to be conservative and score as many points as possible and stay out of trouble. Of course I found it.
"Once I let loose and drove normal I was much better for it.
"Scotty is in a different position to me because he is the chaser. I think if you are that close on points - I would rather be the chaser and put a lot of pressure on the other guy.
"In saying that, you are up against a six time champ, who is pretty good under pressure."
The battle between the two leading teams extends to the team's championship too where DJR Team Penske hold a handy lead.
Van Gisbergen said winning that championship is worth more than just pride as you get the first two positions on pit lane next year as reward.
"You get a much better spot in the pit lane, the 28-year-old said. "In racing you can react to the other guy - you can see how much fuel they've put in and when they are exiting the pits and you can react to that. It is a pretty good spot in strategy terms so it would be good to get into that.
"We have to score as many points on my side of the garage and do a good job there.
"It is not going to be easy - the DJR cars are pretty quick and Scotty is a good driver."
Van Gisbergen is expecting the brand new circuit to be a difficult place to pass, which will make qualifying extremely important.
"I had some promotion work there so I went at the same time and did a lot of study of the track.
"It looks a big commitment type of track. It is a little like Townsville where it is fast and flowing but then it is a little like Clipsal with the 90 degree corners and it is like Gold Coast because it is along the coast line of the surf beach."
Man to beat: Scott McLaughlin (though Whincup will be right with him)
Dark Horse: James Courtney - with no historic data to call upon and a love of street circuits he could be a contender
Pressure on: Whincup - he holds the championship lead. One mistake and it is a different ball game.
Tip your hat: To veterans Jason Bright and Todd Kelly, who will retire after this weekend. Will Davison could also be out as a fulltime driver next season.