Emotional McLaughlin gets haka after Bathurst lap record
DAVID LONG AT BATHURST
Scott McLaughlin was trying to hold back his emotions after setting a new lap record to claim pole position for Sunday's Bathurst 1000.
Before he could take part in his press conference the Kiwi driver was greeted by a haka from New Zealand fans who'd made the journey over for the Great Race.
— Corbin Middlemas (@CorbinMiddlemas) October 7, 2017
That hit home for McLaughlin, who then looked overwhelmed during the conference when he got thinking about his achievement to be the fastest person ever to go around the historic circuit in a Supercar.
"It's part of our culture in New Zealand and I'll happily watch that any day," McLaughlin said of receiving a haka.
"I'm just buzzing it's something I'll never forget, yeah, it's pretty special, very special," he said with his voice trailing off and eyes becoming slightly watery.
His lap of 2:03.831 will go down in Bathurst folklore, as did that of his childhood hero, Greg Murphy, who drove what is referred to as the Lap of the Gods in 2003.
"That was the main thing that went through my mind when I saw the 3.8, I thought holy crap," McLaughlin laughed.
"Basically from that (Murphy) lap Supercars was it for me, it was pretty special day that one, not only myself as a fan, but for New Zealand as a country.
"That was a day I'll never forget and this is another day I'll never forget."
— Supercars (@supercars) October 7, 2017
Murphy's lap was 2:06.859 and he took a whole second off the previous lap record. McLaughlin could have missed out on pole for the race when at one point on his lap he had two wheels off the track up the mountain.
"I was lucky with that one, I kept my foot into it there," he said.
"It put me a bit narrow into Skyline, but I settled up before the Dipper and got a really good run off that.
"It managed to hold itself together and I got through the Chase cleanly and brought it home, which was pretty amazing."
He was the favourite before the weekend and he's an even stronger favourite now, but he says he can handle that pressure.
"We start on pole and we've got 26 places to lose," he said.
"It looks like there's going to be a fair bit of rain so it's going to be completely different.
"We'll worry about that when we get here, but we'll work out a plan.
"I'm confident to have a strong run, it's nice to have a fast car and roll into a day in a good spot and we'll try to make the most of it."
First to go in the shootout was Garth Tander, who did a time of 2:05.326. Jason Bright was able to knock a 10th of a second off that time.
Following a slow time from James Courtney, Shane van Gisbergen set a new benchmark. The reigning Supercars champion was faster at every sector and posted a time of 2:04.669
Fellow Kiwi, Fabian Coulthard, was fast for the first part of his lap, but nearly put his Ford into the wall at the Cutting. However, he was still only three 10ths of a second slower than van Gisbergen.
Mark Winterbottom, who has had an average season, recorded a quicker time than van Gisbergen at 2:04.499, while Cameron Waters, who is sharing a car with Richie Stanaway, was a touch slower than van Gisbergen.
Chaz Mostert was 0.09 seconds slower than his Prodrive Racing Australia team-mate, Winterbottom, but David Reynolds confirmed his spot on the front row with a new fastest time of 2:04.275.
McLaughlin was the only driver who could knock him off pole position and at one point on the lap it looked like he'd overcooked one corner, but not so and he'll be the driver to beat over the 1000km race.
Meanwhile, three of the New Zealand co-drivers didn't need to watch any of the action late on Saturday, as their main drivers didn't make it into the shootout.
So Tim Slade and Andre Heimgartner will start the Great Race in 18th place, Craig Lowndes and Steven Richards are a place further back on the grid, while Dale Wood and Chris Pither will start from 21st place.
For Heimgartner it's been a couple of days where he's been on a steep learning curve, as the first time he stepped into the car he'll be racing was on Friday morning.
Ash Walsh was supposed to be Slade's co-driver, but he made call early on Friday that the pain from his four broken ribs, picked up when crashing a sports car last week - was too severe.
Heimgartner was at Bathurst to just race in the Porsche Carrera Cup, but was called up to get a seat in the main race as team owner, Brad Jones regarded him as the best option.
Heimgartner spent an hour in the Holden Commodore on Friday and a further 30 minutes on Saturday morning.
"It's awesome to be racing in the big race again and obviously with a good driver like Tim it's going to be exciting," Heimgartner said.
"I'm slowly getting used to the car more and feeling comfortable in it. But it's one of those things where you need laps."
Shootout, Mount Panorama, Bathurst (circuit: 6.213km): 1. Scott McLaughlin (Ford) 2mins3.8310sec2. David Reynolds (Holden) 2:04.27503. Mark Winterbottom (Ford) 2:04.49904. Chaz Mostert (Ford) 2:04.58805. Shane Van Gisbergen (Holden) 2:04.66906. Cameron Waters (Ford) 2:04.68007. Fabian Coulthard (Ford) 2:04.96908. Jason Bright (Ford) 2:05.22809. Garth Tander (Holden) 2:05.326010. James Courtney (Holden) 2:05.4890 AAP