Let's keep Qld Supercars here: Top level backing for Raceway
RUNAWAY championship leader Scott McLaughlin will be disappointed if Ipswich's premier motorsport event is scratched from the Supercars schedule.
Enjoying his latest session among fans at Springfield, the popular driver said Queensland Raceway was a valuable location for his Shell V-Power Racing team, who had their latest test session at the venue on Thursday.
"It's important for us to still be on the calendar,'' McLaughlin said of the annual Ipswich SuperSprint weekend.
"It's nice to have a test track that's on the calendar. It's a great test track for us - it's got fast corners, slow corners, good to hard braking so it has got a bit of everything.
"I hope it stays on the calendar for sure.''
While no decision has been made on the Ipswich SuperSprint's 2020 future, efforts to secure vital Raceway upgrades have stalled. That has left next year's event at Queensland Raceway under a cloud.
Like his scorching teammate McLaughlin, Fabian Coulthard also has concerns about what will happen if Ipswich loses next year's Queensland Raceway series.
"Where will we test? I don't know,'' Coulthard said, running second behind McLaughlin in this year's Supercars championship.
"We will still be able to test but we won't have the same thing like Melbourne have in Winton. They get to race there.
"We can't just set up a Gold Coast track and go testing there.''
The annual Gold Coast series is run on a street circuit, unlike the permanently set up Queensland Raceway track and pit area.
The Shell V-Power team currently has three test days a year at Queensland Raceway, providing valuable information for the championship pacesetters and other teams like Red Bull Racing.
Preparing for next weekend's Ipswich series, McLaughlin was encouraged by the latest round of testing carried out by Shell V-Power Racing at the Willowbank circuit.
"You just get an idea of where you want to be, where you want to start the race weekend,'' he said.
McLaughlin, 26, currently holds a 292 point advantage over Coulthard, who also mingled freely with fans at Saturday's Supercars Community Day at Orion Shopping Centre.
"Any time you are 300 ahead is really nice,'' McLaughlin said, when asked how many points he needs to feel even safer, having set the hottest pace in this year's national series.
"It's really nice at the moment but you always want to get more and more.''
After claiming the 2018 Supercars Championship, McLaughlin has won 13 of the first 18 races this year.
He sits equal with motorsport legend Peter Brock on all-time pole positions.
The New Zealander said he was in a good place, compared to the pressure last year chasing his first title.
"I definitely think I'm a bit more comfortable where am I,'' the Ford Mustang pilot said.
"I understand the situation more as well.''
McLaughlin welcomed teammate Coulthard pushing him hard at the top of the championship.
"He showed a bit last year in the car and now the car is a lot better,'' McLaughlin said, keen to build on his team's powerful position in the championship.
"It's just a refinement of what we've learnt and just keep building.''
McLaughlin and Coulthard were recently re-signed to join forces for a fourth consecutive season next year with the Shell V-Power Racing Team.
McLaughlin said the consistent performances of this year's highly-touted Mustangs were a credit to his team.
"I think we were punching above our weight with the Falcons before so the Mustangs coming in and the refinement is definitely an improvement on where we were,'' he said.
"I think our car suspension is really good . . . we have a better car and it's fast.''
Joining McLaughlin and Coulthard at the latest fan day in Ipswich were Chaz Mostert (running fourth in the championship), Tim Slade (12th) and Todd Hazelwood (17th).
All the Supercars drivers were happy to chat to fans, share their racing thoughts, sign autographs and have their photos taken.
Hundreds of motorsport enthusiasts turned up early to meet the elite racers.
Now living in Brisbane after being born in Christchurch, McLaughlin said he enjoyed his visits to Ipswich, meeting fans.
"It's really cool because coming here it's like a home race and there's a lot of DJR (Dick Johnson Racing) fans here,'' he said.
Teammate Coulthard agreed.
"It's awesome to see the turn-out,'' he said. "Everyone shows their support and there's a lot of red, a lot of Shell V-Power car gear so that's pretty awesome too.''
Another Ford Mustang high-flier Mostert was also impressed with the fans.
"It's good to see the people come out a week before the race and it's just fantastic to be part of the show,'' Mostert said, holding fourth place in this year's championship heading to Queensland Raceway next weekend.
"It's pretty special seeing people with their race shirts on and all that kind of stuff.
"They are obviously very passionate and we're very lucky to have an awesome fan base like we do.''