No co-driver preference

  • 28/07/2016
  • By Kassie Gadeke
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

Scott McLaughlin says he has no preference of co-driver, with team boss Garry Rogers yet to confirm which of his two picks will pair with the Championship front-runner.

Rogers has announced steady hand and former full-timer David Wall, 33; as well as Dunlop Series front-runner James ‘Bieber’ Golding, 20, who is quick but untested at the enduros.

Wall shared McLaughlin’s car during the recent co-driver sessions at Queensland Raceway and Winton, while Golding steered teammate James Moffat’s #34. But McLaughlin said that was not necessarily definitive of the pairings, which Rogers traditionally announces right before the first of the long distances races.

“Not at all,” McLaughlin told supercars.com when asked if he has a preference.

“I think the two guys we’ve got are really good.

“At the end of the day, ‘Wall-y’ fits well in my car and Bieber fits well in Moff’s car but seat inserts can change all that, so we can make it work for everyone.

“You’ve got to look at the times on the weekend, they were pretty much the same speed, so I think either one of them is going to do a really good job.”

Young gun Golding was second quickest in the additional driver session at Queensland Raceway (behind Dunlop Series leader Jack Le Brocq) with Wall sixth overall and only 0.28sec behind Golding.

Rogers’ latest protégé has been tipped as one of the options to replace McLaughlin next year as he moves on to DJR Team Penske, and embarks on his first Pirtek Enduro Cup this year.  

“For those sessions it’s about trying to get more laps in the car and I wasn’t really trying to go fastest or anything like that,” Golding said.

“You go out there and try and drive as fast you as you can, but you also have to keep a level head. You are just getting more laps in the car and learning more every time … to come out P2 is pretty cool.

“To know you have more speed, that gives me more confidence.”

It was just the second time behind the wheel of the Volvo for Golding, who was also getting used to running on soft tyres.

“It felt good both times but, then again, I’m not used to soft tyres. They have a lot more grip than hard tyres – everything feels good. But the more laps I get in the better I’ll be and the more I’ll get a feel for it and be able to push it harder.”

Between racing in the Dunlop Series, Golding is a mechanic at the team, so he knows first-hand there will be no difference no matter which car he races.

“I know they are both the same because I work on them,” he said.

“The fact that Moffat and I are pretty much the same size – seat position and all that, I pretty much slot in without having to change too much – so it was easier to do it that way.”

It is an all-new co-driver line-up at GRM this year, with McLaughlin’s former co-driver Alex Premat snapped up by Triple Eight to pair with Shane van Gisbergen at Red Bull Racing Australia.

Wall was racing full-time last year and paired with Chris Pither (who now steers for Super Black Racing).

Premat and McLaughlin finished fifth at Bathurst last year, but the Frenchman is yet to turn a lap in the Red Bull Commodore based overseas in Las Vegas. 

Team boss Roland Dane is not worried, though.

“If he was here, we’d put him in the car, but we knew he wouldn’t be,” Dane told supercars.com.

“Alex has got plenty of experience in these cars, he’s very fast, and we’re looking forward to having him working with Shane, they’ll be a great combo.”

With the Championship as close as ever, the ‘big three’ will be critical in the title fight.

“I think the enduros will be awesome,” Dane said.

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