New V8 star Scott McLaughlin amazed his rivals today as he twice out-qualified them by big margins at Taupo’s Gull 250 meeting, final round of the BNT V8 SuperTourers sprint series.
Just 20, the Australian-based Kiwi has won V8 Supercar races in his debut season at the top level and he carried that speed over into the New Zealand series to secure pole position for the first two races tomorrow. Both times his Holden was about four-tenths of a second ahead of the field.
The Taupo circuit suits his driving style, McLaughlin says.
“You’ve got to be smooth here and flow through the corners; it’s not a stop-start circuit,” he said.
“One corner leads into the next and maybe the next three, and if you get the first corner wrong that affects the next few corners.
“And I’ve learnt to be more calm in qualifying, to see everything in slow motion.”
Pole position is particularly important at Taupo because it is “massively difficult” to overtake on this track, McLaughlin said.
Meanwhile rivals like Greg Murphy, who leads the championship, were scratching their heads.
“We’re struggling to understand it,” Murphy said. “The car feels quite good but clearly the overall grip is not there.
“In the second session I did a lap that I was sure was a very fast one – but it wasn’t.”
He qualified fourth and seventh for the two sessions.
If Murphy can hold on to his points lead tomorrow he will win his first title since 1996, when he claimed the Mobil Sprint Series in New Zealand driving for the Holden Racing Team.
Shane Van Gisbergen, also a winner in V8 Supercars, qualified his Ford third and sixth but was also frustrated.
“We struggled and we’re not happy, we’re six-tenths off,” he said. “Scott obviously did a good job.”
Daniel Gaunt did well to qualify second for race one as he was driving a different car from his usual one. Team-mate and fellow Aucklander Andrew
Waite took over his Tasman Ford and Gaunt filled in for Craig Baird, who was committed to a GT meeting in Asia.
Hamilton Ford driver Ant Pedersen, second in the championship, could manage only ninth in session one but shot up to second in session two.
Aucklanders Simon Evans and Andy Booth also showed big improvements in session two to be third and fourth respectively, both in Holdens.
The BNT V8 SuperTourers have three races today, one of 14 laps, one of 18 laps and one of 28 laps. The first starts at 10.35am.
In the support classes, Aucklander Chris Hanley increased his lead in the UDC V8 Utes championship with another victory in his Holden, John Drysdale from Palmerston North took the Winger Suzuki Sport Cup race , and Manukau driver Kevin Williams qualified his Ford fastest for the Cogent V8 Challenge Cup.