Scott McLaughlin knows this weekend is critical to his Championship chances.
The big-points enduros are two races away, with today’s 120km and tomorrow’s 200km sprints the last to run before the endurance races.
McLaughlin is 285 points away from leader Jamie Whincup, and even with the opportunity to earn 300 points each race meeting, the Volvo driver believes he needs to get “back into contention”.
His recent results have been inconsistent, with two top six finishes in the last two Sunday races, but 24th and 15th in the Saturday races, while the front-runners were dominant up ahead.
“I think the only way we’ll get back into contention is if we have some stronger results,” McLaughlin said after topping practice two at the Red Rooster Sydney SuperSprint.
“We can’t have too many bad weekends like we’ve had the last few races. Anything’s going to help and if we can get a few solid results after the enduros … we should be ok.”
This weekend is the last opportunity to run his race, without having to hand the keys to his co-driver. His enduro partner is not officially confirmed – it will be either former teammate David Wall or up-and-coming GRM talent James Golding.
“Like I said, it’s huge obviously those guys aren’t getting any slower so it’s important to stay in front of them,” McLaughlin said.
“If we can do that more regularly it’s good – we’ll see how we go, but it’s important to be fast anywhere. To win a championship you need to be in the top five more often than not winning races, so that’s the aim.”
He was pleased with the Volvo S60 after finishing fourth and first in yesterday’s two practice sessions. His 1min29.7774 was set early in the session.
“Obviously the track temp dropped a fair bit at the end with the sun going away – I think 10 or 15 minutes at the end of the session the track started to drop off a bit.
“The car was good all day, I’m not going to say the car was bad, we were pretty happy, we’ll see how we go.”
McLaughlin would dearly love to win the title for current boss Garry Rogers, who gave him his Supercars start. The 23-year old shifts to DJR Team Penske for 2017, to take on a whole new challenge.
The news was announced prior to Townsville, which McLaughlin described as a “hectic time in his life”.
A break since the last event at Queensland Raceway has given him time to unwind and refocus on taking that maiden title.
“It was actually good to have five weeks off, go watch a bit of footy, go hang out at home and probably feeling pretty refreshed and ready to go.”
McLaughlin had a spectacular win at Sydney Motorsport Park in 2014, and noted some similar characteristics to Phillip Island, which he dominated earlier this year.
“Hopefully, for my sake,” he said when asked if he could lead the pack here.
“It’s kind of like Phillip island in some ways, it’s fast and flowing. We’ll see how we go … I’m very lucky I’ve got a car than when I come here it’s pretty good.”
The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship kicks off with practice tomorrow at 1pm, before qualifying and Race 18.