Scott McLaughlin: ‘I know what it takes to win title now'
THE threat may be different, but Scott McLaughlin still has the same Red Bullseye on his Supercars championship aspirations.
Heading into the Gold Coast 600 a year ago, McLaughlin said he began feeling the pressure of the title chase.
But the 25-year-old Ford driver is adamant he "knows what it takes" to claim the championship he should have won last year.
McLaughlin is locked in a one-on-one battle with championship leader Shane van Gisbergen for the V8 crown.
Last year it was van Gisbergen's Red Bull teammate Jamie Whincup who loomed late to snatch the title after a McLaughlin error cost him victory at the season-ending Newcastle 500.
But after claiming his first podium finish at the Bathurst 1000 this month, McLaughlin has cut van Gisbergen's lead to just 19 points with three rounds remaining, and added a steely resolve to his racing.
"I learnt a few lessons last year,'' McLaughlin said. "Things didn't work out real well last year and I know a lot can happen between now and the end of the year.
"I am going to keep my head down this year. I remember being a bit nervous at the same time last year and I am a lot more relaxed this time round. I let things go to my head a bit last year and that won't happen this year.
"I am more mature and more calm. I know what it takes.''
McLaughlin and Shell V-Power teammate Alex Premat was third behind Craig Lowndes and Steven Richards at Mount Panorama but, more importantly in the title race, he finished two places higher than van Gisbergen.
"It was a fantastic round as far as the championship is concerned,'' McLaughlin said.
"To go to a track where we haven't been that great and to close the gap on Shane is really great.
"But it was a bit of a strange feeling because I have dreamt of being on the podium at Bathurst my whole life and to get there I just felt like I want more. It didn't feel good enough being on the podium because I wanted to win.
"It is quite selfish but I left Bathurst wanting more. It hit me a couple of days later that I should have been happy because I was on the Bathurst podium for the first time. I have wanted that for a long time but not winning feels like you have really done nothing.
"It is still unfinished business.''
With Bathurst out of the way, McLaughlin now has his sights firmly set on winning the Supercars championship, resuming today with Gold Coast 600 practice.
The championship will continue with the Auckland round before moving to the season finale in Newcastle in November.
"The focus is now on the championship,'' McLaughlin said.
"And it is really important for us to continue our charge. I feel like we have been right there even if we haven't been the outright fastest car. We have been chipping away at the points and that is what you have to do.''
McLaughlin is expecting a fierce fight on the Gold Coast with the Ford driver predicting Tickford Racing and Erebus will join Red Bull and Penske in the 600km street fight.