Skaife: The 'significant' SVG-McLaughlin rivalry that got away
Repco Supercars Championship
By James Pavey
Mark Skaife has lamented the absence of Scott McLaughlin amid Shane van Gisbergen’s march to the 2021 title.
When the season resumes at Winton in October, van Gisbergen will arrive with a 276-point series lead.
McLaughlin was the one to beat between 2018 and 2020, with the now-Team Penske IndyCar driver clinching the 2019 and 2020 titles with a round to spare.
It was in 2018, however, when McLaughlin and van Gisbergen went toe-to-toe, with the former winning the title on the very last day.
McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard were replaced by Will Davison and Anton De Pasquale, who have combined for 15 podiums and five pole positions.
McLaughlin left for IndyCar after his 2020 title
However, wins have largely eluded Davison and De Pasquale, the latter claiming the team’s sole win of 2021 in Tailem Bend in May.
Skaife, however, reiterated that McLaughlin made the different, but put current form of the team down to the performance of its cars, rather than Davison and De Pasquale.
“It would be unwise to say Shell V-Power [Racing Team] would be going better if a Scott McLaughlin wasn’t parked in there,” five-time series champion and Supercars commentator Skaife told Supercars.com.
“They would definitely be further up the road than what they are now, and that’s not in any way denigrating the performance of Will Davison and Anton De Pasquale.
“Scott picked up that car and carried it, and there were occasions last year where the car probably wasn’t as good as we thought it was.
“Scott’s ability, and the rapport with Ludo [Lacroix] was such that they made that car better on weekends than probably what the real performance was.”
McLaughlin won 48 races in his time for the Dick Johnson-owned team between 2017 and 2020, 31 of them coming in his dominant 2019 and 2020 campaigns.
The Stapylton-based team was conscious from the get-go that McLaughlin’s remarkable run would be difficult to repeat.