Championship leader McLaughlin crashes out of practice in Pukekohe

Penske driver Scott McLaughlin stuffs it into the barriers
Penske driver Scott McLaughlin stuffs it into the barriers

Scott McLaughlin’s tilt at a maiden Supercars Championship has taken a hit, literally, when he crashed in just the second practice session of his home race, the ITM Auckland SuperSprint.

In a day of high drama, seven-time Supercars Championship winner Jamie Whincup was fastest from Erebus Penrite Racing’s David Reynolds, an ARMOR ALL Pole sitter on the Gold Coast two weeks ago, and The Bottle-O Racing’s departing star Mark Winterbottom.

The third of Winterbottom came a day after the 13-year Ford veteran announced he would leave his long-term outfit for an undisclosed new home from next year.

Whincup was driving in a spare car after his then co-driver Paul Dumbrell crashed in a wild storm at the Gold Coast with his regular car unable to be repaired in time to make the trip to NZ.

“I haven’t driven this car before, so it took a little bit of time to get used to it out of the gate," Whincup said. “Now it feels like home."

Reynolds again proved his speed, with his well-documented Bathurst woes well behind him.

“That was a really good session for us because every time we went out we improved, which is really hard to do, especially on a track with so many bumps and different corners," he said.

The car looks fixable
The car looks fixable

“I didn’t do the best lap, I stuffed up at turn eight, but it was good enough."

Winterbottom, who will leave Tickford Racing at season’s end, had his last race victory in New Zealand two years ago before his extended recent drought.

“It’s an emotional thing when you leave somewhere you have worked for the last 13 years," he said. “This track has been kind to us in the past so let’s hope we can get one tomorrow."

McLaughlin’s drama was the talking point of the day in Championship terms.

Locked head to head in a direct fight with Kiwi compatriot Shane van Gisbergen, the youngster from Hamilton smacked into a barrier in the fast turn two and three section of the Pukekohe circuit after just one lap of the final practice session of the day.

McLaughlin was leading at the time from Jamie Whincup and Van Gisbergen. Van Gisbergen had an eventless afternoon, coming in eighth.

“I was trying to find more of a driving thing I was working on coming into there. I just over-stepped the mark, completely my fault," McLaughlin said.

“I just gave them (the team) a whole lot of work that they didn’t need. I will give myself a good kick up the arse and come back tomorrow."

While the damage appeared superficial it is a significant setback for McLaughlin’s weekend to miss 36 minutes of practice, although there is a third session tomorrow morning before qualifying and the first of two races this weekend.

"It was a pretty big hit. I can't do much about it now, I made a mistake, I have to own it and get on with it now. I am pretty disappointed in myself," he said.

“We have been locking into there all day, so I had been running a little more brake bias and just lost the rear. I knew I was gone from the exit of the turn two curb. Unfortunately, it is what it is."

Until then McLaughlin had been strong all day, leading the way in opening practice from three Triple Eight Commodores and team-mate Fabian Coulthard.

They sandwiched Craig Lowndes, Van Gisbergen and Whincup, in the 40-minute practice.

Practice 1

POS # DRIVER TEAM BEST LAP
1 17 McLaughlin Shell V-Power Racing Team 1:03.115
2 888 Lowndes Team Vortex 1:03.198
3 97 Van Gisbergen Red Bull Holden Racing Australia 1:03.227
4 1 Whincup Red Bull Holden Racing Australia 1:03.237
5 12 Coulthard Shell V-Power Racing Team 1:03.255
6 18 Holdsworth Preston Hire Racing 1:03.288
7 8 Percat Brad Jones Racing 1:03.290
8 23 Caruso Nissan Nismo 1:03.291
9 2 S. Pye Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing 1:03.302
10 15 R. Kelly Nissan Motorsport 1:03.425
11 9 Reynolds Erebus Motorsport 1:03.432
12 5 Winterbottom The Bottle-O Racing Team 1:03.457
13 55 Mostert Supercheap Auto Racing 1:03.529
14 14 Slade Brad Jones Racing 1:03.544
15 6 C. Waters Monster Energy Racing 1:03.597
16 25 Courtney Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing 1:03.681
17 21 Blanchard CoolDrive Racing 1:03.730
18 99 A. de Pasquale Erebus Motorsport 1:03.771
19 230 Davison Milwaukee Racing 1:03.777
20 33 Tander Wilson Security Racing GRM 1:03.835
21 78 S. De Silvestro Nissan Nismo 1:03.938
22 7 Heimgartner Nissan Motorsport 1:03.983
23 56 R. Stanaway Tickford Racing 1:04.086
24 34 J. Golding Wilson Security Racing GRM 1:04.229
25 19 J. Le Brocq TEKNO Woodstock Racing 1:04.268
26 35 T. Hazelwood Bigmate Racing 1:04.361

Practice 2

POS # DRIVER TEAM BEST LAP
1 1 Whincup Red Bull Holden Racing Australia 1:02.658
2 9 Reynolds Erebus Motorsport 1:02.754
3 5 Winterbottom The Bottle-O Racing Team 1:02.858
4 55 Mostert Supercheap Auto Racing 1:02.875
5 2 S. Pye Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing 1:02.925
6 15 R. Kelly Nissan Motorsport 1:02.929
7 56 R. Stanaway Tickford Racing 1:03.018
8 97 Van Gisbergen Red Bull Holden Racing Australia 1:03.022
9 888 Lowndes Team Vortex 1:03.041
10 14 Slade Brad Jones Racing 1:03.099
11 25 Courtney Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing 1:03.113
12 21 Blanchard CoolDrive Racing 1:03.132
13 23 Caruso Nissan Nismo 1:03.147
14 12 Coulthard Shell V-Power Racing Team 1:03.165
15 99 A. de Pasquale Erebus Motorsport 1:03.172
16 8 Percat Brad Jones Racing 1:03.198
17 6 C. Waters Monster Energy Racing 1:03.215
18 18 Holdsworth Preston Hire Racing 1:03.245
19 33 Tander Wilson Security Racing GRM 1:03.257
20 7 Heimgartner Nissan Motorsport 1:03.360
21 34 J. Golding Wilson Security Racing GRM 1:03.404
22 19 J. Le Brocq TEKNO Woodstock Racing 1:03.428
23 230 Davison Milwaukee Racing 1:03.464
24 17 McLaughlin Shell V-Power Racing Team 1:03.581
25 78 S. De Silvestro Nissan Nismo 1:03.649
26 35 T. Hazelwood Bigmate Racing 1:03.973

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