Home grown V8 drivers put focus on Pukekohe round

By Eric Thompson

Home-grown drivers put focus on Pukekohe round

Volvo driver Scott McLaughlin can't wait to get back racing on home soil. Picture (right) / Simon Watts/ www.bwmedia.co.nz
Volvo driver Scott McLaughlin can't wait to get back racing on home soil. Picture (right) / Simon Watts/ www.bwmedia.co.nz

The boys are back in town for round three of the 2014 V8 Supercars series at the Australian-based category's spiritual home of Pukekohe over Anzac weekend.

And by the "boys" we don't mean the entire V8 field, just the Kiwis who are doing the business and taking it to their Aussie counterparts.

In a field of 25 highly competitive drivers and cars the three Kiwis - Fabian Coulthard, Scott McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen - have been keeping the rest of the field honest. The grid for race three at the last round of the championship had the three home-grown lads front and centre on pole, P2 and P3. Unfortunately things didn't quite finish that way.

In the run-up to round four this weekend, Driven spoke to all three of the Kiwi contenders and put the same questions to them to see how they reckon they will fare.

Driven: Last time out at Winton was a bit of an interesting time for you.

Coulthard: It wasn't too bad and any time you get two pole positions on the same day can't be all bad, and to back that up with two podiums makes for a good day. Setting the lap record at nearly two seconds faster than a Supercar has ever been around there before was pretty special as well. We're pleased to have got the points from the weekend and be third in the championship, but the drive-through penalties annoyed us a bit and they need to get that sorted.

Scott McLaughlin of Valvoline Racing GRM during the Clipsal 500 this year.
Scott McLaughlin of Valvoline Racing GRM during the Clipsal 500 this year.


McLaughlin: It was probably one of the worst weekends we've had because we had so much pace, but couldn't turn it into the best of results. Heading into the race weekend I didn't think we'd be that good so getting pole was great. Not the best of weekends but we've just got to keep pushing on. Things happen ... heading to Pukekohe though, we'll be right.

Van Gisbergen: We had good speed at Winton and getting second in the first race was pretty good. In race two we had a car problem again. In race three we tried some stuff with strategy that didn't quite work out. Having said that, we've got a fast car so we're looking forward to Pukekohe.

Driven: Qualifying is so important this season with just a single second almost blanketing the entire field.

Fabian Coulthard made the podium twice at Winton.
Fabian Coulthard made the podium twice at Winton.

C: We struggled a bit early in the season but we averaged third at Winton. I'd have to agree that we have improved our qualifying pace, which coupled with our race pace makes things pretty cool at the moment.

M: Yeah, qualifying has been good for us this year and I think we're leading the average qualifying position so far [this season]. Qualifying is good but we've just got to find a bit more race pace. Don't get me wrong, we've got the speed but we just chew through the tyres a bit too much. We've got too much rear grip and less front so we have to get the balance right and once we get on top of that we should be all good.

V: Qualifying is so tight this year and we've done pretty well in the opening rounds. So far we've averaged out as the third best qualifier and doing all right and have been well inside the top 10 for the shootouts we've had so far.

Fabian Coulthard of Brad Jones Racing during the Clipsal 500
Fabian Coulthard of Brad Jones Racing during the Clipsal 500


Driven: You're back on home soil for this round, so it must feel good to race in front of a Kiwi crowd.

C: It's good to be coming back [to New Zealand] and it was pretty

Shane Van Gisbergen of Tekno Autosports
Shane Van Gisbergen of Tekno Autosports

cool to have three Kiwis that have been fast at different times. It's good for New Zealand fans that there are three very competitive Kiwis that are putting our nation on the V8 map. It's a unique format for the weekend, as we will be racing over three days and not two. I had a podium finish there last year [third in race three] and qualified on pole. It'll be great to be back as I don't get to race in front of a home crowd much these days and to race in front of family and friends will be great.

M: It's a bit crazy racing over three days with one practice, qualifying and then a race [Friday]. It's great, though, being able to race back in New Zealand and I really don't care what the format is as I can't wait to race back there. It was a good and bad time last year [first V8SC win, DNF and DNS] and we really need a good result. We're 10th in the championship at the moment, but could easily drop to 15th if we have a bad weekend. We're happy as to where we are in the championship at the moment, but we need to get some points and build a bit of a buffer. We have a fast enough car to be inside the top five so have to be careful it doesn't slip away.

V: The crazy thing about Pukekohe is that there's only half an hour practice before you're straight into qualifying and then straight into the race on Friday. It's going to be pretty full on for a championship round with not a lot of practice, but I'm looking forward to the challenge and everyone's in the same boat. It's going to be tough but having Kiwi fans yelling for you is something I look forward to every year.

Driven: From a Kiwi perspective the trophy up for grabs over Anzac weekend, the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy, is a big one. Last year Richards' teammate at Brad Jones Racing, Jason Bright, won it so there is a tentative Kiwi link there. How good would it be for one of you guys to get your hands on it?

Shane Van Gisbergen driving during the Melbourne Grand Prix.
Shane Van Gisbergen driving during the Melbourne Grand Prix.


C: We would love to keep Jason's trophy in the team. Brighty has been a little unlucky so far this year but I know what a great mate he was with JR, and myself. The trophy holds a lot of sentimental value in our team so we'll be going all out to retain it.

M: I'd love to be able to win that trophy. Winning a race at Pukekohe last year was so good, but for BJR [Brad Jones Racing] to get the trophy was great since it was JR's team. I think an NZ driver needs to win the trophy this year and I hope it's me.

V: Hopefully some other Kiwi driver can take the trophy home if we don't manage to do it. Last year it was fitting his [Jason Richards] old team won it but hopefully we can do it this year, as it certainly would be an awesome trophy to get your name on.

- NZ Herald

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