A bizarre early radio glitch cost Scott McLaughlin any chance of fighting for victory in his debut GT3 appearance at the Bathurst 12 Hour.
McLaughlin shared a Pro-Am Class YNA Autosport McLaren to 11th place alongside Australian Fraser Ross and internationals Andrew Watson and Alexander West.
While the day started with McLaughlin comfortably running in the top five, the car dropped two laps shortly after Watson took over.
McLaughlin explained post-race that an unscheduled stop to fix a radio problem had proven very costly.
“Alex had a radio malfunction when he got in that meant he was getting a long beep in his ear,” McLaughlin told Supercars.com.
“He probably should have just pulled the radio out, but he came in [pitted again] because it was just deafening.
“We’d just lost a lap pitting and would have got that back [when the leaders pitted], but then pitting again left us two laps down.
“Apart from that everyone drove really, really well, but that just stuffed our day.
“I was coming back through passing outright cars that were on the lead lap, so it’s unfortunate because I felt that we really had something.
“We were very fast and it looked after its fuel better than we thought.”
Despite the disappointing outcome, McLaughlin said he thoroughly enjoyed his first race weekend in GT3 machinery.
McLaughlin won Class B aboard a Porsche Carrera Cup car in his only other 12 Hour start in 2016, but says he was unsure how he’d perform on his first go in the faster GT3 machinery.
“I loved it. The McLaren really suits me, I really enjoyed driving it,” he said.
“I had a few doubts coming here with whether I’d suit the GT cars and how I’d go, but to make the Shootout and go OK against my team-mates was nice.
“The whole race I was improving and that last stint I felt was the best I’d driven it all weekend.
“It was one of those deals where every lap I felt more comfortable, very much like my first Bathurst 1000.
“It took me all weekend to build up and now, if I get the chance to come back, I feel ready to go.”
The early demise of the second YNA Autosport McLaren of Shane van Gisbergen, Craig Lowndes and Come Ledogar due to overheating issues meant the team’s full attention was turned solely on McLaughlin’s car.
That included the focus of Triple Eight boss Roland Dane and engineer John McGregor, who had been assisting the entry driven by their Supercars regulars.
“I was in the hotel waiting for my next stint just relaxing and Roland and Irish (McGregor) were keeping me up to date,” said McLaughlin of the extra input.
“Initially I was nervous to text them about my car and how it was going, but it came back straight away!
“Now I’ve got to put my Supercars hat back on and they’re the enemy again.
“It’ll be eyes forward and we’ll give each other nothing, but at the end of the day we’ll have a beer.”