Scott McLaughlin can’t wait to get behind the wheel of his Volvo S60 after such a successful first season with the new-to-V8 Supercars manufacturer.
This time last year the Garry Rogers Motorsport team was gearing up for the first proper test of the Volvos – and now, 12 months on, it’s all about the Championship for 21-year old McLaughlin.
While many thought year one of the Volvos would be a learning year, McLaughlin managed to win four Championship races, score his first ever V8 Supercars pole position – and eventually equal Champ Jamie Whincup’s 10 p1 starts, win the Barry Sheene Medal for fairest and best, and achieve his goal of a top five Championship finish.
Now it’s all or nothing for the young gun.
“We’ve got top five now, there’s not really much else to aim for apart from the Championship,” McLaughlin told v8supercars.com.au.
“We’ve got to go in there with the mentality we’ve got to do well and get up the front. We know we can do it, just a matter of putting everything together. For me – if we don’t, we don’t – but we’ve got to give it our best shot.
“If I get anything worse than that, you could say I’d be disappointed with the season because I’ve got a fast car.”
The young gun, who contests 2015 with a new teammate in David Wall, is counting the days until he can jump back in the drivers’ seat after his Volvo had a “makeover” during the off-season.
“I’m pretty excited – I think it’s good to have a break and chill out, but our life is V8 Supercars racing,” McLaughlin said.
The sydney.com SuperTest, from February 7-8, will provide invaluable track time on Saturday, as well as offering the first opportunity to show speed and top the competition in Sunday afternoon’s SuperShootout, which teams will contest on green (new) tyres.
Claiming two ARMOR ALL Pole Positions at Sydney Motorsport Park last year, McLaughlin knows how to put a good lap together at the 3.93km circuit.
“With the drivers, once we put our helmets on and get on track we’re serious – so for sure I want to be fastest and try and kick off the 2015 season strong,” McLaughlin said. “It is important in some ways to prove your pace.”
With some upgrades to the Volvo S60 over the off-season, McLaughlin believes the car will be reliable and will be focusing on his Sunday performances, with the longer race effectively earning double the points of a Saturday race. Of his victories in 2014, two were in the 200km Sunday race, at Sydney Motorsport Park and Phillip Island.
“For me, pinpointing Sunday races is important,” he said.
“You have to be strong on Saturdays, which we were, but towards the end of the season we got stronger in the Sunday longer, double points races, which help a lot in the Championship.
“So for me every race we race on a Sunday is really important and that can help towards our Championship, so more focus on those.”
Assessing the off-season upgrades and ironing out any issues is the first priority during Saturday’s seven and a half hours of testing.
“The car normally handles good around there, it’s just a matter of getting the car fast and trying new upgrades before we go for record lap times.
“But I’m sure everyone at the end of the day will have a good crack at it.”
The sydney.com SuperTest is free for fans to attend this weekend, running February 7-8. Saturday is a full test day for the teams, while Sunday includes the official unveiling of each livery, a True Colour Track Walk when fans can meet the cars and stars, a final test run and the SuperShootout, determining 2015’s quickest driver.