Kiwi stunning in Supercars

By Catherine Pattison on Sat, 12 May 2018

New Zealand punches well above its population size in the motorsport world, and one of its heavy-hitters at the moment has got to be V8 Supercars phenomenon Scott McLaughlin.

The 24-year-old Kiwi driver not only made it four consecutive wins last weekend at Barbagallo Raceway in Western Australia, he made up a staggering 18 positions to claim victory in the final race.

After a poor qualifying performance, McLaughlin started 19th and worked his way through the field.

His extraordinary drive bettered the track record previously held by Supercars greats Peter Brock and Larry Perkins, who both came from 12th to win at Barbagallo.

Brock came from 12th twice to win in 1978 and Perkins did it in 1997. McLaughlin's against-the-odds victory was set up in the opening lap when he got a fast start and gained several positions, moving to 12th before a lap-five safety car triggered a full-field entry to the pit lane.

It worked for McLaughlin, as he gained several more positions to exit in seventh. Through the second stint, he continued his push to the front.

It ended up being a three- stop race, with the combination of speed and good strategy giving McLaughlin his fourth consecutive win in 2018.

Credit is also due to veteran driver Aussie Craig Lowndes, who started from second-to-last on the grid and finished third. McLaughlin described the win as "the best team effort that I've been involved with'' and "one of my best races, ever.''

McLaughlin holds a 158 points lead in the Supercars series over fellow Kiwi Scott Van Gisbergen.

I would love to see McLaughlin claim his maiden Supercars title, especially after last season's heart-breaking finale when the Kiwi surrendered a 78-point lead in the final race of the series to hand Jamie Whincup an unprecedented seventh title.

In local motorsport circles, Dunedin's Emma Gilmour had a positive two days at the International Rally of Whangarei last weekend. Although narrowly missing a podium finish,she moves to third in the New Zealand Rally Championship.

Hayden Paddon cleaned up again, winning by more than seven minutes from Auckland's Ben Hunt.

My hope is that he will take his emphatic victories from Whangarei and Otago back to Europe - he will compete in WRC Rally Portugal next weekend - and turn them into a podium position on the world stage.

Catherine Pattison