Motorsport: Shock for V8 big boys

By Eric Thompson

Development pair show them how it's done in Supercars

V8 Supercars' Super Sprint showed some young talent is taking over. Picture / EDGE
V8 Supercars' Super Sprint showed some young talent is taking over. Picture / EDGE

The Dunlop V8 Supercar Series, more commonly known as the Development Series, hasn't really been a "development" series until recently. In the past it was a place populated mostly by teams and drivers who didn't quite have the talent, or the money, to take part in the main game.

In the past it was also the place for drivers in the V8 Supercars who couldn't, or wouldn't, renew their contracts. Few of the main category outfits had seen it as a place to develop and nurture young drivers before moving them up into the showcase of the sport.

If last weekend's racing in Ipswich is anything to go by, teams who have a vested interest in the tier-two category are starting to reap a few rewards. Two of the best young drivers in recent times to come out of the Development Series, Scott McLaughlin and Chaz Mostert, took on the big boys and came out on top.

Dubbed the "next generation" of V8 Supercars' racing, McLaughlin and Mostert have decided they're not waiting around to showcase their talents - they want to do it right here, right now.

The "right here" was at the Coates Hire Ipswich 360 on Saturday and Sunday when McLaughlin followed Jamie Whincup home in the 60/60 Super Sprint race. He backed that up the following morning with his second win of the season, holding out four-time V8 Supercars' champion Jamie Whincup.

He rounded out his weekend with a 20th place finish in race three after a puncture put paid to his challenge to Mostert, who went on to win.

McLaughlin's arrival in V8s has been a short but remarkable journey. He became youngest driver to get behind the wheel in the second-tier Dunlop Series at age 16 and won the championship, at 19, last year - another record - and also won the inaugural New Zealand V8 SuperTourer series.

Just those stats are hard to beat, but not for McLaughlin. At the Kiwi round of the V8s at Pukekohe he became only the second New Zealand driver (Shane van Gisbergen the other) to win on home soil since the days of Greg Murphy. In doing so he ticked of another first by becoming the youngest winner of a V8 Supercars race.

"It's the most mixed feelings I think I've ever felt on a weekend," said McLaughlin. "The win was awesome but it could have been better. I know I would have been able to battle Chaz.

"The car was awesome for that last race and to be honest I would have much rather won the other race as we came from sixth on the grid. I was more gutted this weekend that I couldn't battle Chaz as we had some great fights in the Development Series. I would have been great for the category and the fans if I'd got to Chaz and had a crack.

"Drivers like me and Chaz can now challenge the main guys this year because a lot of the teams have put money and effort into their development series programmes.

"They've been giving us good cars and teaching us stuff before we get to the main game. We're arriving on a more equal footing than in the past where we had to drive old crap things.

"I can't wait to get to Winton to race as it's our home track. It'll be a good lead up to the endurance rounds as well,"

The form guide was thrown out the window again in race three when 21-year-old Mostert notched up his maiden victory.

"I had been watching Scotty getting a couple of wins and thinking 'gee that guy is lucky'," said Mostert. "But this is better than the Seven Wonders of the World I reckon. It's hard yakka racing against these legends."

McLaughlin was always going to be a hard act to follow for the other youngsters in the field after backing up his runner-up placing behind Whincup in Saturday's sprint race opener to claim his second win of the year.

But Mostert did. It was his show in the 100km race after setting the pole position qualifying and he finished ahead of FPR teammates Will Davison and Mark Winterbottom - the first trifecta for the Ford since Phillip Island in 2012.

Mostert did not enter the V8 Supercars series until the fourth round at the Chill Perth 360. By the time he rocked up at Ipswich he was 24th in the 28-man field after eight top-15 finishes, including three top 10s.

"He really has got what it takes. He always had the potential. I am just glad we were able to give him the opportunity," said DJR team boss Dick Johnson.

Mostert was the 10th different winner in this year's championship and didn't even have a drive at the start of the year until Wilson Security Racing parted ways with Kiwi Jonny Reid to give the young Dunlop Series contender a break. Like McLaughlin, he impressed from the very start and has caught the eye of many seasoned V8 watchers.

While he might be in WSR colours, Mostert is on loan from Ford Performance Racing on an agreed share between the two teams. FPR has made it clear Mostert has a long-term deal with them and will be retained for the long term. McLaughlin has re-signed to Gary Rogers Motorsport until 2016.

- NZ Herald

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