McLaughlin up there with the greats

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 18/11/2014
  • By V8 Supercars

Volvo star Scott McLaughlin's double triumph at Phillip Island on the weekend was as good as anything produced by Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife.

That's the heady praise delivered by McLaughlin's veteran engineer Richard Hollway, who worked with both the V8 Supercars legends in his time at the Holden Racing Team.

Hollway, who is also Volvo Polestar Racing's chief engineer, was hugely impressed by McLaughlin's win in Saturday's 100km Race 34, when he withstood constant pressure from Lowndes in his Red Bull Racing Australia Holden Commodore VF.

"That was as good as I have seen him drive," Hollway said. "I thought that was awesome with Lowndesy behind him.

"That reminded me of Skaife, Lowndes, all of that. Fantastic, just unbelievable pressure.

"If you look at the sector times he was within half-a-tenth lap after lap-after-lap and that's just class. A seriously good drive. That was really pleasing to see. He is a gun steerer."

McLaughlin followed on his win with a drive from ninth to sixth in the second 100km race on Saturday and then converted, grabbing a last gasp victory in Sunday's 200km mini-marathon when HRT's Garth Tander ran short of fuel on the run to the chequered flag.

The 21-year old has now climbed to fifth in the drivers' championship and is battling champion elect Jamie Whincup for the most ARMOR ALL Pole Positions in the season. The Red Bull driver leads 10-9 after the Plus Fitness Phillip Island 400.

Hollway said McLaughlin's ability to pull out strong qualifying laps was a clear indicator of his talent and mental strength.

"He thrives on the pressure," said Hollway. "In qually, when there is one lap to go that's when he shines.

"He just loves the pressure, loves it. So many blokes will be three-tenths up and there will be yellows everywhere and they will stuff the last corner, but he just finishes it off every time. His qualifying is outstanding and that is a little bit of his ability to remain composed.

"His composure is really good."

Hollway also believes McLaughlin's level-headedness works in his favour and that will aid him in his sudden rise to stardom in the category.

"He is such a well rounded bloody good young bloke, I don't think it is going to get to him. He takes it in his stride and just keeps being the same old Scotty and keeps doing what he is doing."

Hollway revealed that team owner Garry Rogers had encouraged McLaughlin to be a little more aggressive at Phillip Island, exploiting the fact that hanging on the outside of one corner often sets the car up for a pass at the next turn.

McLaughlin showed he had heeded Rogers' message, driving round the outside of pole qualifier Whincup in turn one at the start of Sunday's race and taking the lead in turn two.

"Garry didn't so much let him off the leash as just give him a little bit of license to have a little bit more of a crack at that stuff," explained Hollway.

"That's important. It's important that the team weighs in on it, it's part of his development... And that was fantastic. It was a really strong move at the start of the last race."

The other important achievement at Phillip Island that pleased Hollway was the Volvo S60's ability to sustain rear tyre life longer than in the past events.

The Garry Rogers Motorsport team has been flat-out for more than two years developing its Holden Commodore VF Car of the Year for 2013 and then the Volvo S60 for 2014.

"We are only now trying some stuff," Hollway confirmed. "Some of it worked ...we are getting more aggressive with set-up.

"A couple of things obviously worked there, so really pleased with it. Tyre degradation has obviously been our drama all year so that was pleasing.

"And there is more to come, more development to come."

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