Motorsport: Teenage terrier grabs NZ V8 SuperTourers title

By Eric Thompson

New Zealand V8 racer Scott McLaughlin completed the first part of his 2012 mission. Photo / Geoff Rider
New Zealand V8 racer Scott McLaughlin completed the first part of his 2012 mission. Photo / Geoff Rider

New Zealand V8 racer Scott McLaughlin, 19, completed the first part of his 2012 mission by winning the inaugural V8 SuperTourers' series with a race to spare.

Part two of his quest is next weekend on the streets of Sydney for the last round of the V8 Supercars development series, which he leads.

Now based on the Gold Coast, McLaughlin, and co-driver Jonathon Webb were never really challenged during the opening race of the weekend at Ruapuna and won from Andy Booth (with Tony D'Alberto) and Chris Pither (with George Miedecke).

"I just got out in front at the start of the first race and kept the gap until I could hand the car over [to Webb]," said McLaughlin. "It's my first big championship and hopefully it won't be my last.

"I saw that Murph and the others weren't there after that first corner and I thought 'okay, now I just need to put my head down and keep doing what I'm doing and get on with it'."

Greg Murphy's championship challenge ended on the opening lap at turn one of race one as he was turned and ended up on the grass. The Aussie V8 Supercar driver limped back to the pits with steering damage, and although he rejoined the race, the team never threatened.

Meanwhile, up front McLaughlin handed the car over to Webb at the halfway stage and the Aussie retained the lead to win.

Race two started with Chris van der Drift (with Tim Edgell) proving his qualifying pace - putting his car on pole - was no fluke and he led the field until the driver changeover. Edgell continued to lead until a safety car incursion that closed the field right up, and with Murphy now living in Edgell's boot, it wasn't long until the four-time Bathurst winner moved past and took the lead.

In the interim, McLaughlin was slithering through the field and was soon glued to Murphy's back bumper. A little too close as it transpired, for the youngster punted Murphy, spinning him around and dropping him back down the field.

McLaughlin refused to take the drive through penalty and was subsequently hit with a 50-second post-race penalty plummeting him down the field. After much jibber jabber in parc ferme, the race win was finally awarded to Daniel Gaunt and Andrew Waite, with Geoff Emery and Steve Owen in third and Edgell rounding out the podium.

McLaughlin later apologised to Murphy, who's a boyhood hero, for his youthful exuberance. A small consolation for Murphy's outfit is they won the 2012 teams' championship from McLaughlin's crew.

"It was a relief to know I had the championship before the second race.

"It was a bit unfortunate what happened [hitting Murphy] but I drove the wheels off the thing all weekend and we came away with some good results."

V8 ST points

Scott McLaughlin 3474
Greg Murphy 3175
John McIntyre 3015
Jonny Reid 2749
Andy Booth 2667
Kayne Scott 2502
Ant Pedersen 2375

- NZ Herald

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