Motorsport: McLaughlin departs GRM on good terms

By Dale Budge

Garry Rogers shakes hands with Scott McLaughlin. Photo / Getty Images
Garry Rogers shakes hands with Scott McLaughlin. Photo / Getty Images

Kiwi V8 Supercar driver Scott McLaughlin will leave Garry Rogers Motorsport at the end of the season with the veteran team owner's blessing.

Rogers handed the 23-year-old McLaughlin his first shot at V8 Supercars when he signed him to a full-time drive for the 2013 season. The move immediately paid off as McLaughlin claimed rookie of the year honours and a maiden race win at Pukekohe, becoming the youngest ever race winner.

McLaughlin thrived as the team switched to Volvo in 2014 and he finished fifth in the championship. But with Volvo's announcement earlier this year that they were pulling investment from the series at the end of the season it became obvious that the highly regarded Kiwi would move teams.

"It is a good tick of the box for me and now I can concentrate on what I need to do this year with GRM," McLaughlin tells Radio Sport's D'Arcy Waldegrave. "It has been a fantastic four years with them and I would love to finish off the season with a championship win and move on.

"We have ended with no angst or anything like that. Me and Garry are still great mates. It was my decision but I appreciate everything he has done for me to this point."

The relationship between McLaughlin and Rogers has been a close one and the decision to leave has weighed heavily on the young New Zealander.

"He has probably been more of a father-like figure or a real strong mentor for me. He is an unbelievable person with a kind heart. He is a crazy man at times in a good way. I have enjoyed my time with him.

"I wouldn't be the person I am today without the guidance I have been given by him."

McLaughlin says Volvo's decision to exit coupled with the opportunities available to him at DJR Team Penske were too significant to turn down.

"The Volvo decision didn't make anything easier for me," McLaughlin says. "I have had a real good time with them and the guys and me are like a family. Ideally I didn't want to leave but I had to think about my security and my own life.

"To join Roger Penske, a legend in America, and Dick Johnson, a legend in Australia, it was a no-brainer for me and something I needed to move on with."

His move to DJR Team Penske ensures an all Kiwi line-up in 2017 with fellow New Zealander Fabian Coulthard already signed on as a driver.

"We get along really well," McLaughlin explains. "I caught up with Fabian last night for dinner. We get on like a house on fire. I'm just looking forward to working with him moving forward.

"I have known him since I moved into the category and moved to Australia and he has always been good to me."

Penske operate highly successful teams in NASCAR and IndyCar series in the United States and McLaughlin has previously shown an interest in competing there in the future.

"I would love to try that and they know that but at the end of the day it is one of those things where my one hundred percent focus is on this V8 Supercar series and this was why I signed up with DJR Team Penske - to hopefully one day complete my goals of winning the Bathurst 1000 and also the championship."

McLaughlin currently sits third in the championship and his focus moves back to next weekend's round at Townsville.

"There would be nothing that I would love to do more than winning the championship with Garry and maybe win a Bathurst before I leave - that would just be a fairy tale."

- NZ Herald

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