Motorsport: Young star picks up Kiwi banner

By Eric Thompson

Scott McLaughlin on his way to the V8 Supercars Development Series title. The 19-year-old (right) has signed with Gary Rogers Motorsport for the 2013 V8 Supercar series. Photo / Mark Horsburgh
Scott McLaughlin on his way to the V8 Supercars Development Series title. The 19-year-old (right) has signed with Gary Rogers Motorsport for the 2013 V8 Supercar series. Photo / Mark Horsburgh

One of New Zealand's most successful V8 race car drivers, Greg Murphy, is without a gig for next year and it's not looking great for him at the moment.

Couple that with Shane van Gisbergen deciding to take some time out and that only left one Kiwi, Fabian Coulthard, at BJR with a seat at end of the 2012 season.

It's not all bad news, though. Coulthard will now be joined by up-and-coming Kiwi Scott McLaughlin, who's signed a deal with Gary Rogers Motorsport to replace the departing Michael Caruso.

The 19-year-old has just won the New Zealand V8 SuperTourers title and the V8 Supercars Development Series over the course of seven days.

If you think that's good, in his first Bathurst 1000 McLaughlin finished sixth, driving with Jonathon Webb. Also, at the Sydney 500 a couple of weeks ago, Rogers handed him the keys to the team's main game car, replacing the ill Alexandre Premat.

In one of the toughest races on the calendar on one of the toughest street circuits, McLaughlin stayed out of trouble, and despite being hit with a pit-lane penalty drove a mature race and brought the car home in 17th on debut.

"All signed up now and I'm pretty happy," said McLaughlin. "There were a few options on the table for me but I'm really happy with this one.

"I'm really proud of my family and all my sponsors who have supported me over the years. This is what I've been working towards from way back when I was in karts."

The departing chairman and architect of the V8 Supercars, Tony Cochrane, thinks he's a young bloke with a bright future. "I think one of the real exciting things from a Kiwi point of view is clearly Scott McLaughlin," he said.

"I really think if properly handled and managed, not rushed and everyone being a bit patient, he'll be a real New Zealand superstar."

Praise indeed from a man who's seen plenty of very good peddlers.

Rogers has an eye for talent and has nurtured stars including four-time champion Jamie Whincup, Garth Tander, Jason Bargwanna, Lee Holdsworth and Michael Caruso.

"Gary's no fool and he's bought a lot of good, strong young drivers through and some of them are top championship contenders. Hopefully one day I'll be challenging as well," said McLaughlin.

His timing in entering the fray is almost perfect. The series introduces a new Car of the Future so it'll be pretty much a level playing field for all the teams.

Ross and Jimmy Stone arranged for McLaughlin to make the move into the Development Series a couple of years ago. He started with SBR working in the race shop as a fabricator and as part of the deal will finish his apprenticeship with GRM.

"If it wasn't for them [SBR] I wouldn't have the name I have now," said McLaughlin. "They were the ones who allowed me to drive their car first off. The family owns a trucking company and they [SBR] asked dad if he'd let a 16-year-old drive one of his big trucks and he said definitely not.

"That's when you realise how big a deal it was for them to let me drive one of their race cars. I can't thank them enough."

Families always play a big part in supporting youngsters on their journey to the top. McLaughlin's parents Diane and Wayne are very proud of their son and rightly so.

"He's been a delightful young guy to bring up," said Wayne. "He's sacrificed a lot of stuff. We couldn't be more proud."

- NZ Herald

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