While he is no longer a rookie in the Championship, Volvo star Scott McLaughlin will find himself racing at a new circuit next week at the Sydney Motorsport Park 400.
Though the pre-season sydney.com V8 Supercars test day is staged at the 3.93km track, McLaughlin said his previous outings there had been weather affected – and having never raced there in any category, said it would be difficult to gauge how he'd go.
Tweeting that his Valvoline Racing GRM team learned “a heap” after yesterday’s test, the 21-year old is nevertheless looking forward to the new challenge.
“We’ll see what happens where we get there, because I’ve actually never raced there before – I’ve never raced anything there, I’ve just done the two test days and they were both affected by wet conditions in some ways,” McLaughlin told v8supercars.com.au.
“It’s hard for me to even say how we’re going to go because I just don’t know.”
The young gun does believe characteristics of the track may work for his Volvo S60 – but given the category has raced at the circuit only once in the past five years, and not in the new generation V8 Supercar, there’s no true form guide to go by.
In fact, six current drivers of the 25 have not raced a V8 Supercar at Sydney Motorsport Park, with Nick Percat, Chaz Mostert, Scott Pye, Dale Wood and Volvo teammate Robert Dahlgren also on the list.
The V8 Supercars have an action-packed Saturday at the circuit, with two half-hour practice sessions, followed by back-to-back qualifying and two 100km races, before Sunday’s 200km run.
“I think it’s going to be a pretty cool format, and I think for us, as a track it’s going to suit us," McLaughlin said.
He identified the SuperSprint Sunday as an area of improvement for the Volvo team, and will be looking to capitalise at Sydney Motorsport Park, which marks the final running of the three-race format before the Pirtek Enduro Cup.
Meanwhile, after the strong performance at Queensland Raceway, McLaughlin has named Holden Racing Team's James Courtney, who sits fourth in the Championship, the man to beat.
“Courtney’s looking pretty strong, they’re pretty quick those HRT blokes, so they’re coming on pretty good,” he said.
“I think we’ll soon find out (who will rise to the top).
“That’s why the category is so good – it’s so close, so tight, and you can produce some really tight racing."
At the last event at Queensland Raceway, the gang of younger drivers featured prominently from Friday practice, when McLaughlin, Mostert and Percat recorded the top times. All three raced at the front, and Pye – also of the Dunlop Series ‘class of 2012’ – recorded his best V8 Supercars race result, finishing in fourth place on Sunday.
McLaughlin has no doubts as to whether he and his peers can take it to the big names, as the focus on Championship points becomes more important for those at the top of the table.
“It’s good for us young blokes, a bit of confidence. Anytime we can race up the front against the more experienced dudes – not saying the guys in 20-odd are inexperienced, but when you race up the front you learn how to race up the front.
“It’s a big thing for our confidence and our race car going forward.”
Tickets are available from $27 and kids 14 and under are free trackside with a paying adult. The True Colour Track Walk will run on Sunday, with fans able to get up close to the V8 Superecars, adding more to your experience.