Motorsport: Young gun and Murph battle for series win

By Eric Thompson

Rising Kiwi star and V8 icon in weekend duel to take out inaugural SuperTourers title.

Aucklander Scott McLaughlin,19, is leading the Aussie championship development series and the Kiwi V8 series. Photo / Geoff Ridder
Aucklander Scott McLaughlin,19, is leading the Aussie championship development series and the Kiwi V8 series. Photo / Geoff Ridder

Four drivers have the chance to win the inaugural V8 SuperTourers series this weekend at Ruapuna.

Realistically, because each driver has to drop a round, there are only two drivers with a real chance.

And if youngster Scott McLaughlin can get one over a real icon of V8 racing, Greg Murphy, it could just be a hint at the changing of the guard.

New Zealand had another big banger V8 racer, but he's just announced he wants time out from the V8 Supercars. Shane van Gisbergen is heading home, which might just open the door, not necessarily at SBR, but in the category for McLaughlin to become the new series' young gun.

McLaughlin has been plying his trade in the Aussie championship's development series and leads the title race with one round to go.

If he can manage to win the V8 SuperTourers championship this weekend, and back it up with winning the development series title the following weekend in Sydney, he'll be a man in demand.

"I'm amazed we came away from Winton with the championship [V8 Supercars development series] lead, especially the way I drove," said McLaughlin. "We were lucky we got away with it and if I didn't make the mistakes I did we would be leading the championship by a lot more [he's 32 points up on Nick Percat]."

McLaughlin is in the unique situation of also leading the Kiwi V8 series - 155 points up on former NZV8 champion John McIntyre with Murphy a further 108 points behind.

It always bodes well for the future, especially when a talented youngster admits he's made a few cock-ups and is willing to learn from them. What it doesn't do, though, is bode well for his competition this weekend.

However, first things first, which means getting all the required points at round seven of the V8 SuperTourers series, so tomorrow afternoon McLaughlin can call the title his.

McLaughlin and Murphy both have zero point rounds they can drop but McIntyre doesn't, so effectively it's the youngster against the old stager.

"The cars are so identical it's not funny. A little tyre pressure change here and there can change things massively so the boys have to be on top of their game, that's for sure.

"It really depends on the driver and what you can get out of the car and the track at the same time. I like it and think it's really awesome because you can show your true potential.

"Just have a look at Murph. He's having a shocking time in V8 Supercars and everybody thinks he's lost it. I don't think he has - just have a look how he performed at Pukekohe [two firsts and a second against some of the same drivers from the V8SC].

"Me and Murph have been having some great battles, especially at the last two rounds. The two of us have been up at the front and it's a dream come true for me. I watched him race when I was really young and can't really believe I'm fighting for a championship with my boyhood hero."

If McLaughlin does get a full-time gig in the V8 Supercars next year, the time he's spent in the V8 SuperTourer one-make-fits-all car will help him greatly. The Aussie series is introducing a similar car next year, around which the Kiwi version is loosely based.

"The SuperTourer is much like the Car Of The Future that's coming out next year. I've driven the new V8 Supercars' car in testing and it's given a good introduction to the whole deal.

"If I can get a fulltime drive in the V8SC next year, having driven in these cars [V8ST] will hopefully have given me a bit of an advantage.

"We've been talking to a few teams so far and hopefully there is a chance I'll be able to move into the main series," said McLaughlin.

At the Mike Pero 350 event, teams must nominate which driver will start the first 53-lap race tomorrow no later than 30 minutes after the 20-minute qualifying races held today. The grid line-up for race one will be determined by the qualifying time of the nominated starting driver.

The grid for the second 53-lap race will be based on the qualifying times of the starting driver, who must not have started the first race.

V8ST points
After six rounds:
Scott McLaughlin 2995
John McIntyre 2840
Greg Murphy 2732
Jonny Reid 2654
Andy Booth 2308
Kayne Scott 2299

- NZ Herald

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