Motorsport: Rising Kiwi V8 prodigy

By Eric Thompson

Scott McLaughlin says he's wanted to race V8s since he could talk and Supercars has always been his priority. Photo / Geoff Ridder
Scott McLaughlin says he's wanted to race V8s since he could talk and Supercars has always been his priority. Photo / Geoff Ridder

Although Driven has been following the escapades of a number of young open-wheel racers taking it to the Europeans on their home soil we can't forget those across the Tasman.

It is well documented that Kiwi V8 Supercars drivers Shane van Gisbergen and Fabian Coulthard are mixing it with the Aussies but we have another young gun poised to strike.

Scott McLaughlin has always been quick in anything with an engine but, of late, he is starting to turn heads in the main game. He put a few veteran V8 pilots on notice at the recent V8 SuperTourers round at Hampton Downs when he won all three races.

His pass on Greg Murphy to move into the lead in Sunday's race was a manoeuvre that would have made more experienced drivers envious.

"I'm so stoked and I've wanted to be doing that [fighting for position] with Murph [Greg Murphy] since I was 8. Going door-to-door with my hero was so great. It was a great race and weekend," said McLaughlin.

Needless to say 19-year-old McLaughlin has been snapped up by a V8 Supercars team - Ross and Jimmy Stone saw he had something and locked him in straight out of karting.

He's been banging door handles in the development series and already has a race win under his belt.

"After leaving karting I only did two tests in a Formula Ford and then did my V8 Supercars test with Stone Brothers Racing in 2009 when I was 16.

"They then picked me up for the V8 Supercars events but I couldn't do Adelaide because I was too young. So I had to run two Mini races and two Formula Ford races in 2010 to get my CAMS licence to race V8 Supercars.

"Formula One and going to America and all that is pretty cool but I've been a V8 fan since I could talk. The V8 Supercars thing has always been my priority, and I've never really thought about anything else.

"I'm too big for some of those other classes anyway," said McLaughlin.

McLaughlin had a dream of racing V8s from an early age. He approached SBR and said he wanted to be a fabricator and wanted work experience for a week. It all went well and he was asked back to do some more work.

One day Ross [Stone] called him into the office and said he didn't realise McLaughlin had raced karts pretty well. "He decided to reward me with a test in James Courtney's 2008 car after he found out I went to the world karting champs."

SBR told the youngster that if he could get into the 1min 13secs bracket at Queensland Raceway they would put him in the development series in 2010. Halfway through the session McLaughlin dropped into the 13s and the rest is history.

"We've always been there [development series]. We've been close with seconds and thirds before but we've never cracked it [a win]. Now that we have it should come easier - well not easier but it means I've got confidence now knowing I can win," said McLaughlin.

Those who know about such things have always said the 19-year-old has what it takes. His breakthrough win in the V8 Supercars development series appears to have opened the floodgates as witnessed by his clean sweep at round four of the V8 SuperTourers.

Kiwi V8 hotshot van Gisbergen sees a lot of himself in McLaughlin and thinks he can go all the way.

"It was quite extraordinary that Scott went straight from karts to V8s," said van Gisbergen. "I reckon he'll get a good shot at getting there [V8 Supercars] next year. It'll be good to have him there."

- NZ Herald

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