Championship leader and Supercars legend Craig Lowndes offered Scott McLaughlin some sage advice on his big future decision, following their podium finishes in Perth yesterday.
Lowndes made one of the most controversial switches in Supercars history when he defected from Holden to Ford in 2001 and understands just how big this career crossroads could be for the young driver.
McLaughlin is the key to the driver movements for 2017, and is often likened to a young Craig Lowndes given his raw talent and likeability.
“Scotty I’m sure will have good people around him and good advice,” Lowndes said.
“The only person who can make the decision is him in the end and that’s something that he’ll have to be comfortable [with] whatever he makes a decision to go with.”
McLaughlin’s decision will be complicated by the news Volvo will depart Supercars at the end of the season.
Nevertheless, the choice to align with a manufacturer is a big one, Lowndes says.
“If you are going to change manufacturers, it is one of the hardest decisions to make.
“For me it wasn’t an easy decision when I first moved from Holden to Ford. The second decision to go back from Ford to Holden wasn’t my choice, it was the team’s choice, I was contracted to the team.
“The first part of it – it is a very emotional decision because you are very loyal to the people that give you the kick-start in V8s and that’s something you’ve got to look at that angle.
“You’ve got to weigh up all your options. At the end of the day we’re race drivers, we want to be in a strong team winning races and having good support. So there is loyalty there for sure, but you’ve got to look at the opportunities of longevity and what to do out of the sport, which is achieve victories.”
McLaughlin spoke emotionally about GRM after winning both races at Phillip Island the event before Perth. His opportunity to break into the sport came from Garry Rogers, who is a well-respected figure in pit lane and will not let the Volvo setback affect his team.
After his second place finish in intense circumstances, McLaughlin again spoke of the emotion in the garage and his connection to GRM.
“It’s pretty cool when you see your boss at the end of the race is in tears pretty much,” he said.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling, you feel like you’ve done a good job.”
The 22-year old spoke of the feeling within the team this week after the shock Volvo news but was satisfied to have pumped things up yesterday with such an exciting finish and result. He now sits third in the Championship and 48 points behind leader Lowndes.
“Look, when we walked into the track on Thursday for the track walk and stuff a lot of the guys’ heads were down and it was kind of an awkward situation because no one knows really what’s ahead,” McLaughlin said.
“But then when Garry and Barry get you together ... get you together, get the whole group and say ‘we’re not going anywhere, we’ve had these problems before and we’re going to press on’ that lifts everyone.
“Obviously yesterday was a bit unfortunate but we knew we had a quick car and it was all about just using it.
“I had to drive a good race with the two stopper to make it work and it worked good. Satisfying.”