Scott McLaughlin of DJR Team Penske during the Sydney SuperSprint qualifying session.
Scott McLaughlin of DJR Team Penske during the Sydney SuperSprint qualifying session. PAUL MILLER

Supercars leader stumped by starting woes

SCOTT McLaughlin can qualify on pole. He can win races at will. Now he just needs to figure out why he's having so much trouble starting them.

Two duff starts cost McLaughlin a total of six places across the Sydney SuperSprint weekend, and possibly the first-place trophies in both races.

In fact, the Supercars championship leader has not arrived at the first corner in first place in the past four races despite starting each from pole position.

Frustratingly, the cause is still a mystery to him.

"Genuinely can't put it down to anything. Honestly," he said.

"I'm just ... I need to work on it myself and look at it. There's a few little things. We're going to have a big think about it over the next month."

Part of that process will come with practice starts during the team's pre-Enduro Cup test session. But that day's likely to be a busy one, with vital parts testing and set-up work along with giving co-driver Alex Premat a chance to acclimatise himself in the championship-leading car.

 

Scott McLaughlin of the Shell V-Power Racing team celebrates a win earlier this season.
Scott McLaughlin of the Shell V-Power Racing team celebrates a win earlier this season. DARREN ENGLAND

"I need to work on something myself," he added. "I won't be starting as much in the Enduros as I am normally but it's important to get on top of things.

"We've worked on car speed, we've got that. Our biggest weakness is the start so we have to sort that out."

It was the match-up we'd been waiting all day for. The second round in the bout between McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen after Saturday's opening tussle turned physical.

McLaughlin arrived on van Gisbergen's rear bumper with a handful of laps remaining. The former needed to get past quickly in order to stand any chance of chasing down leader Jamie Whincup, while the latter desperately tried to hold off the advances of McLaughlin and teammate Fabian Coulthard to try to secure his team the victory.

Van Gisbergen tried every legitimate move in the playbook to make his Red Bull Holden seem metres wider than standard, positioning his car in such a way as to prevent McLaughlin from either getting momentum to get alongside, or gluing himself to the inside line to quell any lunges.

Coulthard, on fresher tyres, worked his way past both of them to secure second place. McLaughlin briefly followed suit, only for van Gisbergen to sneak back past.

Anyone hoping Saturday's - and indeed, Sunday morning's - turmoil would spill over would be sorely disappointed. McLaughlin had already long drawn a line under Saturday's disputed restart and resulting penalties and moved on.

Supercars driver Fabian Coulthard after winning race one of the Sydney SuperSprint.
Supercars driver Fabian Coulthard after winning race one of the Sydney SuperSprint. SUPPLIED

"I think I blocked it out (Sunday) morning - I mean I went out and put it on pole," he said. "There's nothing really in my mind at that point to do that one lap.

"I mean racing hard today with Shane - we raced hard, I passed him, he switched me back, it was great racing. That's what happens when we've got respect for each other.

"At the end of the day, no, it wasn't a hindrance to me at all. I just didn't quite have the start today and really cost myself."

News Corp Australia


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