Scott McLaughlin says a healthy rivalry with Fabian Coulthard will only push Shell V-Power Racing forward as the team-mates fight for the lead of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
McLaughlin moved to second in the standings with victory on Sunday at Hidden Valley, closing to within 10 points of Saturday winner and title leader Coulthard.
Coulthard has been the leader of the two in points since the start of the season after a variety of issues saw McLaughlin finish 10th or worse in four out of the first six races.
McLaughlin is very much the form man having now won four of the most recent six races and qualified on the front-row on 10 consecutive occasions.
Raw qualifying speed is where McLaughlin is most ramping up the pressure on his team-mate – out-qualifying Coulthard eight times for those 10 races since Adelaide.
Having been comfortably ahead of all four of his previous Supercars team-mates, McLaughlin says he’s enjoying pushing himself against Coulthard.
Ask of how the dynamic between the two will cope with the pressure of the championship fight, McLaughlin downplayed the potential for the battle to split the squad in two.
“I feel like me and Fabs are working together the best I’ve ever had with a team-mate,” he said.
“I’m really enjoying the battle that we’re having and I think everyone in the team’s really liking it too, the #12 and #17 boys are having a bit of a competition.
“It’s a really cool dynamic in the team and I’m just excited to just keep pushing within the boundaries.
“We can race hard but fair and no contact. So far I feel like there’s been no issues at all.
“It’s really exciting to be able to race a team-mate hard but have that respect.
“I think it’s only going to get greater as we race towards the end of the year.”
Despite still being 10 points adrift of Coulthard, many see McLaughlin as the favourite for the title given his current form.
Jamie Whincup is just six points further behind despite remaining winless in 2017, while team-mate Shane van Gisbergen has dropped 178 from the pace after his costly failure to finish on Saturday.
“I’m confident. I feel like we have good speed, but we all have our good days and our bad days,” McLaughlin said of the title race.
“I just want to be consistent. I feel like if we just keep doing these results, second, third, a couple of wins here and there, we’ll be there or thereabouts at the end of the day.
“Jamie hasn’t won a race yet but he’s right there just waiting to pick up the pieces and Shane will come back.
“The championship is wide open and until we get through the enduros we won’t worry about it until then.”