Scott McLaughlin, driver of the #17 Shell V-Power Racing Team Ford Mustang, is ready to defend his 2018 Supercars drivers championship Picture: Daniel Kalisz
Scott McLaughlin, driver of the #17 Shell V-Power Racing Team Ford Mustang, is ready to defend his 2018 Supercars drivers championship Picture: Daniel Kalisz

McLaughlin leaves demons in his wake

REIGNING Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin enters the 2019 season at the Superloop Adelaide 500 unpressured and with a weight off his shoulders, now that he has claimed the category's top position.

McLaughlin, 25, cast a contemplative figure in pitlane in the days leading up to last year's Adelaide 500, as he pondered a close second placing to rival Jamie Whincup in the 2017 championship.

This time around, however, with the 2018 driver's championship under his belt, he is more relaxed and is casting his eyes towards new objectives.

"I was probably more intense (last year), not that I've lost the intensity," he said.

"I believe what I do on track and what I do throughout the championship is enough to win the championship, and I didn't know that last year, and now I do.

"It's definitely a weight off my shoulders.

"My next objective was obviously Bathurst, but I'd love to go back-to-back and the hardest thing in sport is to go back-to-back."

Scott McLaughlin, driver of the #17 Shell V-Power Racing Team Ford Mustang, has had a weight lifted off his shoulders after winning the 2018 Supercars championship. Picture: Daniel Kalisz
Scott McLaughlin, driver of the #17 Shell V-Power Racing Team Ford Mustang, has had a weight lifted off his shoulders after winning the 2018 Supercars championship. Picture: Daniel Kalisz

Typically, the reigning champion spends the following season racing under the number 1.

But his team DJR Team Penske will break with tradition, instead choosing to follow their own, sticking with the number 17 on McLaughlin's car to pay homage to team founder Dick Johnson, who raced under the number.

McLaughlin also will continue with his usual race routine and attitude.

"There's no need to do anything different - just make sure you're consistent, just stick to what you know and don't try and worry about the competition as such," he said.

"I know that if I compete at 100 per cent and didn't win, that's always good enough."

McLaughlin's 2018 season has been documented in his book Road to Redemption - A Championship Journey, ghostwritten by author Tim Hodges, which he launched in Adelaide on Tuesday.

Scott McLaughlin drives the #17 Shell V-Power Racing Team Ford Mustang during the Supercars Season Test Day at Phillip Island in February. Picture: Daniel Kalisz
Scott McLaughlin drives the #17 Shell V-Power Racing Team Ford Mustang during the Supercars Season Test Day at Phillip Island in February. Picture: Daniel Kalisz

It documents the mental scars left after he narrowly lost the 2017 championship and the steps he took last year to mentally recover and ultimately claim the title.

"It's very candid, I don't hold back," McLaughlin said.

"While the season is going on, you don't want to share too many things.

"(Tim) came to me early last year and said he want to talked about the hardest point of my life and made it happen."

All year he worked with mind coach Emma Murray - including calling her 20 times from Saturday night through to Sunday during the season finale in Newcastle - to battle the mental demons that had cast doubt within himself.

McLaughlin admitted the heat forecast for the Adelaide 500 race this weekend would also be a mental as well as physical battle.

Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard with their brand-new Ford Mustang. (David Caird)
Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard with their brand-new Ford Mustang. (David Caird)

"I think you'll see halfway through the race who is mentally prepared," he said.

"We've got a lot of apparatus like helmet fans and cool suits that keep us going (physically)."

He has never won an Adelaide 500 race, although a second placing in 2014 when racing in a Volvo with his previous team, Garry Rogers Motorsport, was one of the most popular finishes among the crowd since the event started in 1999.

He knows winning at Adelaide does not make a championship, although it can be broken with a poor performance.

"If you didn't score many points (in Adelaide), you're obviously on the back foot," he said.

"You need to come out of here with a really consistent round.

"I haven't done that in Adelaide, I haven't done a consistent (weekend).

Scott McLaughlin in the new Mustang.
Scott McLaughlin in the new Mustang.

"I need to make sure the success of this weekend is consistent with pretty high finishes.

"If I walk out of here with two top-five (placings) it's a great start to the year."

McLaughlin had completed a quick view of a change to turns 6 and 7 by Wednesday morning, which has been a move to barriers closer to what is considered the edge of the racetrack.

Drivers will not be able to drive over the kerbs as much as previous years, and the change is designed to prevent confusion over track limits and avoid controversy, as occurred in qualifying last year.

"I wouldn't be surprised if it (made the lap) slower, but not by much," McLaughlin said.

Kayo Sports has every practice, qualifying session and race of the Supercars Championship live, including all the Superloop Adelaide 500 action. Get the Advertiser + Kayo deal now 

News Corp Australia


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