My mate, ri­val and hero

McLaugh­lin tells of re­spect be­tween rac­ers

Mercury (Hobart) - - SPORT - JAMES PHELPS

IT’S been hailed as a great act of sports­man­ship, but when Scott McLaugh­lin saw Shane van Gis­ber­gen run­ning down the Gold Coast track to­wards his over­turned Mus­tang he thought his fiercest Supercars ri­val had a dif­fer­ent mo­tive.

McLaugh­lin, who has sealed back-to-back driv­ers’ cham­pi­onships, and fel­low Kiwi van Gis­ber­gen have been re­united for the first time since McLaugh­lin’s spec­tac­u­lar Surfers Par­adise crash.

On that oc­ca­sion, van Gis­ber­gen put their one-on-one ti­tle fight on hold. He pulled over, got out of his car and ran to help free McLaugh­lin from his Mus­tang, which had come to rest on its side. McLaugh­lin thought van Gis­ber­gen was rush­ing to him to seek ret­ri­bu­tion as he tried to piece to­gether what had hap­pened.

“I saw him the mo­ment I was get­ting out of the car,’’ McLaugh­lin said. “I was just think­ing, ‘Je­sus, that was a big one’ and I saw Shane run­ning. At that point I thought he must have been in­volved and that I had taken him out. That I had ru­ined his ses­sion as well.’’

Fa­mous for their no-holds­barred rac­ing on the track and trad­ing barbs off it, McLaugh­lin might even be in danger of be­friend­ing his great­est op­po­nent fol­low­ing the heroic act. “We are just a cou­ple of rac­ers that just love rac­ing,’’ McLaugh­lin said. “I think peo­ple are now re­al­is­ing that we don’t ac­tu­ally hate each other. We just like beat­ing each other.

“We ac­tu­ally have a good re­la­tion­ship off the track and I think that is be­cause of a mu­tual re­spect for how hard we race each other on the track.

“Shane is the type of guy that won’t give you any more than an inch and nei­ther will I. There is a mas­sive re­spect there.”

Dis­re­gard­ing his own safety to charge across a live race­track, van Gis­ber­gen parked his car and rushed to aid McLaugh­lin af­ter the Ford driver flipped his Mus­tang at more than 200km/h.

“The first thing Shane saw when he came around the cor­ner was that no one was near my car,’’ McLaugh­lin said.

“The marshals hadn’t quite got there yet so he stopped. It was in­stinct. I thought he may have got­ten caught up in it at first so I was just thank­ful he wasn’t in­volved in the crash.’’

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