Thursday, Oct 10 07:40pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Scott McLaughlin on record breaker: “I want to chase that feeling again”

A sub-2mintute4second seemed like an impossible time at Mount Panorama less than five years ago, but now more than ever it looks like the lap records may tumble again. 


Shell V-Power Racing Team driver Scott McLaughlin holds the outright qualifying lap record in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship. Just two years ago in the shootout McLaughlin clocked an unbelievably quick time. A 2:03.8312. 


McLaughlin was King of The Mountain for the day, but a race win eluded him that weekend in 2017. 


It was a lap that put him alongside long-time idol, a former rival, and now friend, Greg Murphy. He famously obliterated the lap record a 2:06.8594 in what was dubbed the Lap of the Gods. 


McLaughlin was quick to snuff suggestions his lap back in 2017 was as good as Murphy’s, but the 26-year-old said he believes he can go quicker this year and still watches his record-breaking lap for inspiration. 


“That’s something that I’ll never forget,” McLaughlin said of the lap on Balls & Bumpers. “It’s similar to my hero Murph [Greg Murphy], but he did it about 15 years before me.”


“I get so nervous before those laps though. It’s a pressure cooker lap, especially if you qualify at the front. You don’t want to start from 10th so it’s nerve-wracking. It’s a place that requires commitment, and sometimes you overstep that limit a little bit.


“There’s no better feeling than driving a Supercar so freely across the top of The Mountain, like I did in that lap. I know that I’m probably going to have a car fast enough to do it this year or have a crack at a really fast lap. 


“Whether it’s a [2.03.8] I’m not sure. It’s a feel-good and a reminder to me that when you execute and when you focus good things happen.”


But how important is qualifying up the front? The last time a car won from pole position was in 2009 when Garth Tander took it out with Will Davison for the Holden Racing Team. The pole-sitter has won 11 times as has the car starting from second. 


It’s not unheard of to win from the back either. Chaz Mostert and Paul Morris did it in 2014 from last on the grid for Ford Performance Racing (now Tickford Racing) in what is widely regarded as one of the best Bathurst 1000 races of all time. 


McLaughlin isn’t hedging his bets though and knows that a strong starting position will put him in the box seat from the outset. 


“It makes your day less stressful if you start up the front,” he said. 


“People have won it from the back and everyone says you don’t have to qualify the fastest to win Bathurst. Yup, you don’t, but you can make it a lot easier for yourself to start up the front. 


“There’s nothing like a Bathurst pole. The feeling I had that time [in 2017] was unbelievable and I’ll never forget that. I want to chase that feeling again.”