Scott McLaughlin’s time for glory in Supercars is still to come

Jawad Yaqub Roar Guru

By Jawad Yaqub, Jawad Yaqub is a Roar Guru

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    Scott McLaughlin: the 2018 championship favourite? (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

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    Following the outcome of Saturday’s penultimate race of the Supercars championship in Newcastle, it was unfathomable that the title would not be claimed by Scott McLaughlin; who had just won his eighth race of the season, from a 15th pole position.

    However, Sunday’s swansong to the 2017 title race yielded the most unpredictable conclusion – with the 24-year-old Kiwi enduring an incident-riddled race, despite starting from pole again.

    The title was conceded to Race 26’s eventual winner in Jamie Whincup, who produced one of his finest campaigns yet to claim an unprecedented seventh championship in the Australian touring car category.

    A pit-lane drive-through penalty was awarded for driving over the speed limit through the pit-lane initially, before a botched attempt at a pass on Simona De Silvestro on the 46th lap ended with the Nissan driver being spun round and the Kiwi with a 5-second time penalty to answer to.

    Having re-joined the race in 24th after the second penalty, McLaughlin charged back up the field on the narrow streets of Newcastle, having finally neared the 11th position required for him to win the championship.

    Negotiating the two cars belonging to his old team of Garry Rogers Motorsport proved difficult, with Triple Eight deploying Craig Lowndes on fresh tyres late in the race to derail the young Kiwi and ensure victory for stablemate Whincup.

    It was in the midst of the icon that McLaughlin has been compared to since his debut in Supercars at the age of 19, that the DJR Team Penske driver found his dreams of a maiden crown shattered – with the Kiwi squeezing out Lowndes on the run to Turn 2 on the second-to-last lap, which resulted in terminal damage to the Team Vortex Commodore.

    Scott McLaughlin

    (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

    In the heat of the moment, it appeared to be a move that reeked of desperation from a competitor clutching at straws to keep their hopes alive for the championship. So divisive was McLaughlin’s manoeuvre, that a divide had been created among critics post-race.

    Looking back at the collision closely and repeatedly, the worst damage was done to McLaughlin who along with another penalty; had endured the biggest punishment in that he saw the title slip into his rival’s hands.

    There was no mistake from the adjudicators, as some have suggested – with the penalty having been just. It would have almost been an injustice with the how that incident panned out, that is McLaughlin escaped any sanction.

    Hence why it was indicated in this writer’s preview of the finale, that ultimately the title would be decided by who is the best on the day and in the end, Whincup produced the faultless drive on the day it counted – while McLaughlin had the opposite.

    Amongst that, it is almost instantly forgotten that the Ford driver had won an outstanding eight races in 2017, with an untouchable 16 pole positions to his credit too – of which significantly contributed to a manufacturer’s title to the Blue Oval and a team’s championship to DJR Team Penske.

    The highlight perhaps being the breathtaking Top-10 Shootout lap that was disharmoniously composed at Mount Panorama, which saw McLaughlin obliterate the lap record at the legendary venue, with almost all four-wheels dancing off the tarmac at McPhillarmy Park.

    A lap so dogged, yet so elegant had usurped what many regard as the ‘Lap of the Gods’, set by the Kiwi’s hero in Greg Murphy, way back in 2003.

    Nevertheless, as much as with the stellar season that the Kiwi has enjoyed in his maiden outing with motorsport royalty in Dick Johnson and Roger Penske; it is fair to surmise that McLaughlin’s time for greatness will come.

    It can be forgotten that it was at the age of 19, that McLaughlin stood victorious on the top step of the podium, winning his first race in Supercars and at his home event in New Zealand. Now at 24, the Kiwi has 16-wins to his credit and the reputation that mirrors fan favourites such as Lowndes and even the late great Peter Brock.

    With three heartbreaks at the Bathurst 1000 and now the 2017 title lost, there is no doubting that McLaughlin will have the hunger to strike back and strike hard in 2018.

    For he is a driver that has the capability to surpass Whincup’s tally of seven titles and dare it be suggested; Brock’s unbeaten record of nine Bathurst 1000 victories.

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    The Crowd Says (2)

    • December 1st 2017 @ 7:53pm
      Simoc said | December 1st 2017 @ 7:53pm | ! Report

      While I’m a fan of McLaughlin he did manage to get it all wrong in the last race. I only watched parts but the move on Simona de Silvestro was amateurish at best and suggested nerves and desperation had taken over. I think it was a 15 second penalty (not 5).

    • December 11th 2017 @ 11:53am
      Jacko said | December 11th 2017 @ 11:53am | ! Report

      There is one major problem. The DATA has PROVEN Scott never broke the pit lane speed limity…Top speed in lane was proven to be 38kph. They decided that Holden and a Kiwi were not allowed to win and went about ensuring it happened the way they wanted it. Penskie has demanded answers from the controlling body saying they just want to be treated same as all others. It started with the pit lane cones incident where 17 people drove in wrong spot but Scott gets a penalty

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