The two leading Kiwi drivers in the Supercars championship will call upon previous successes in the Northern Territory as they battle stifling heat and a challenging race track this weekend.

After a month-long break the Supercars championship reignites at the 2.87km long Hidden Valley Raceway near Darwin in what is generally the hottest event on the calendar.

Championship leader Scott McLaughlin tasted success at the venue last year and knows full-well what is in store for drivers and teams.

"We train for this race – a lot of sauna sessions and other things so we can sweat it out," the 25-year-old Shell V Power racer said.


"The main thing is to keep hydrated – it seems really simple but you sweat out just walking around so you need to stay hydrated.

"You have ice baths as well and the cool suit.

"It is hot but you go to measures to make sure that you are ready and fit for this race."

McLaughlin holds a healthy 131-point lead over fellow New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen in the standings but having held a decent advantage at times last season only to see that evaporate he knows that it is still too early in the year for that to be much of a factor.

"It is nice but I don't look at the buffer any different to if I was only two points ahead," McLaughlin said. "It is a little bit of leeway or whatever.

"I take every race as it comes. If we extend our lead that is an absolute bonus and come November hopefully we are there or thereabouts."

Van Gisbergen won a race at Hidden Valley in 2016 on the way to his maiden Supercars title and has enjoyed plenty of success at the venue over the years.

While he has enjoyed good results in recent rounds, the 27-year-old and his Red Bull Holden Racing outfit have really been struggling for out-right pace.


"Our cars have been really good in racing," Van Gisbergen said. "Probably in qualifying we have been lacking a bit.

"We had a good test day the other day. All three cars seemed to learn a bit but whether that moves us forward or not we can only hope.

"We definitely have the car to do the job and all the tools are there to make it happen.
"We just have to qualify well on Saturday and get the job done."

The short Hidden Valley track is demanding. There is plenty of passing opportunities and stark contrast at various points on the circuit.

"I always seem to go alright here," Van Gisbergen said. "It is a very tough track – you can be greedy and push quite early and then suffer later with the tyres later so it is a bit of a compromise.

"It is the same with the set-up – there is a 1.1km straight and then a bunch of corners the other way. You want to be fast down the straight but still have downforce on the corners.

"It is a real hard one to get right with tyre life versus speed and everything."

Man to beat: The two Kiwis (McLaughlin and Van Gisbergen) have the form and history at this track.
Dark horse: David Reynolds has fallen away a bit in terms of the championship battle after a poor round at Winton but he should be on the pace here.
Pressure on: Tickford Racing need some results here otherwise they will be making up the numbers this season.