MCLAUGHLIN LEAVES RIVALS STARING AT HIS BACK AFTER SCORCHING BATHURST LAP RECORD
SCOTT McLaughlin cried tears of joy yesterday after realising his lifelong dream of scoring a Bathurst 1000 poleposition with a record-setting one-lap blitz around Mount Panorama.
In the fastest lap in the history of the race, the DJR Team Penske pilot became a Mount Panorama great when he blitzed his way around the 6.2km track to win a famous Top Ten Shootout with an inch perfect drive.
Officially claiming “The Lap of the Gods’’ by taking the Mount Panorama record in a Top Ten Shootout, McLaughlin, 24, became the first man to go under the 2.04 mark.
The Ford flyer burst into tears when he crossed the line and saw the new record time flash up on his dash – 2.03.83.
“This is just a dream come true,’’ McLaughlin said. “I have been dreaming about this since I was kid. Wow.’’
After what Bathurst great Mark Skaife described as a lifechanging moment, McLaughlin fist-punched the air after launching himself on top of the pit-straight wall.
“Oh my god,’’ McLaughlin said. “I am just over the moon.
“This is just crazy. I knew we could do that. I knew we could do those times.’’
Even the second-fastest, Dave Reynolds, applauded the history-making lap after continuing his hot form to book a front row start today.
“That was quick,’’ the Ere- bus Holden driver said. “They have been super-fast all weekend and that lap was something special.’’
The wall-brushing one-lap blitz began with Garth Tander going out first in his latest bid at Bathurst glory.
Tander clocked 2.05.32 to show the track was still potentially record-setting fast.
“We didn’t get a chance to rehearse for this in practice,’’ Tander said.
“But the guys did a great job setting it up for the shootout.
‘‘The car was really nice and I am happy with that lap.’’
Ford veteran Jason Bright went better on the next blast but Holden’s James Courtney made a minor mistake to put himself out of contention for a giant-killing Bathurst pole.
In his eighth Mount Panorama Top 10 Shootout, reigning series champion Shane Van Gisbergen went fastest in the first sector to announce his Mount Panorama intent.
The Red Bull racer from New Zealand continued to soar and recorded a 2.04.66 to go to the top with a benchmark-setting time.
Fabian Coulthard threatened to fence his Falcon coming into the cutting with top-ofthe-mountain slide that had hearts in mouths.
“I have struggled there all weekend so I am not crazy surprised that it happened,’’ said Coulthard.
“But I was out to give it my all and that is what I did.’’
The DJR Team Penske pilot recovered to bank 2.04.96 and give himself a solid 1000km race shot.
With shadows creeping across the track under the setting sun, Ford favourite Mark Winterbottom blasted his way to provisional pole with a nearperfect lap.
“The track felt pretty good,’’ Winterbottom said. “That wasn’t too bad. ‘‘It was a solid lap.’’ Winterbottom’s Prodrive Racing Australia (PRA) teammate Cam Waters could not top the driver they call Frosty’s time.
Neither could fellow PRA flyer Chaz Mostert, the former Bathurst winner failing to match Winterbottom by just a tenth.
‘‘I was a bit conservative. I reckon I left a bit out there.’’
couriermail.com.au/sport SHOOTOUT STAR: Scott McLaughlin punches the air after claiming the Bathurst lap record before celebrating with his team’s engineering director Ludo Lacroix (below).
SETTING RECORD: DJR Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin driving; and (inset) celebrating with engineering director Ludo Lacroix. Pictures: Getty Images