DANDENONG SOUTH, Victoria, Australia — official series release — Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images AsiaPac photo —
Scott McLaughlin believes he has continued to grow and mature as a driver in his second full-time year as a V8 Supercars driver.
His Garry Rogers Motorsport team made the switch to Volvos in 2014 off-season, and McLaughlin immediately mastered the new S60, earning a podium finish at the first event of the year. His excitement at the result – and post-race interview – will not be forgotten, earning him more fans, known as the ‘jandal army’ and cementing himself as a 2014 contender.
Awarded the Barry Sheene Medal last night at the V8 Supercars Gala Awards Dinner, the 21-year old has endeared the public and media alike. Achieving his goal of finishing top five in the Championship, he will be aiming even higher next year – and competitors will need to watch out for the young talent.
“I’m pretty stoked with how it’s all gone,” McLaughlin told V8 Supercars when asked about his first season with Volvo. “I’ve definitely learnt how to qualifying better, as well as other stuff – I’ve just learnt how to race harder and fairer and have been able to race at the front more, which has given me a good shot.”
McLaughlin has gone from never qualifying a V8 Supercar on pole position in the main game or Dunlop Series, to equaling Jamie Whincup in 2014 for the most P1 starts. Both had 10 poles to their name this year – and while Whincup was last night awarded the Pole Award — because of a second place count-back – ARMOR ALL awarded McLaughlin with the $10,000 prize money for equaling the six-time Champion’s feat.
Sunday’s ARMOR ALL Top 10 Shootout at the Sydney NRMA 500 was one of the most intense sessions of the weekend – McLaughlin needed to score pole from the Top 10 Shootout to equal Whincup, while never having earned pole from a shootout before. Whincup made an error during his run, Garth Tander came tantalizingly close, just 0.03 seconds off the Volvo, and speedy Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen was also due out – but none of them could topple the time.
“Amazing – something I’ll never forget,” McLaughlin said of the moment. “It was so cool, the crowd loved it, I was just driving the wheels off it. Just said to the boys no matter what – I saw a few sprinkles of rain – and just thought I’d have a crack and it worked. It was awesome!”
McLaughlin and van Gisbergen have a growing rivalry, which has inflamed as both have raced closer to the front this year. At the Gold Coast McLaughlin called his Kiwi countryman desperate and aggressive – but believes racing someone with such confidence has helped him grow as a driver.
“It’s just hard racing – at the end of the day it’s just me and Shane having a go,” he said.
McLaughlin credited his team for the fifth placed Championship finish – which was his goal at the start of the season.
“It’s so good for these guys, they deserve it. It has been an up and down season but fantastic overall.”