McLaughlin: Bend practice most important of year

Tom Howard

Friday 24th August, 2018 - 6:00am

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Scott McLaughlin

Scott McLaughlin expects today’s practice sessions at The Bend Motorsport Park to be the most important of the season as the Supercars field prepares for uncharted waters.

Supercars is hosting its maiden round at the new 4.95km South Australian facility, which becomes the first new permanent circuit in Australia to welcome the championship in almost 20 years.

Championship leader McLaughlin is among the majority of the grid yet to log a lap of the venue, while teams will be equipped with no previous data to utilise.

As a result, the importance of today’s two 45 minute practice sessions has been heightened as drivers and teams aim to quickly adapt to the new circuit.

McLaughlin’s preparation has entailed virtual laps on the Shell V-Power Racing Team’s simulator and studying onboard footage from Porsche Carrera Cup driver Stephen Grove.

The 25-year-old says he feels prepared for what is likely to be most important Friday of the year.

“You would think so, absolutely,” McLaughlin told Speedcafe.com, when asked if Friday was the most significant.

“I think for me it’s one of those things where you’ve just got to go out there and if you can get on top of the track from a driving perspective as quick as you can, the sooner you can get on the race run, the sooner you can get on the qualifying runs and figure out a race/quali balance.

“It’s important, every Friday is important but certainly when you come to a new track its importance heightens.

“Obviously a round before the enduros it’s important to have a good, solid run just to lead into that, and certainly we’ll be working on that.

“I definitely feel ready, I know where the track goes so that’s the main thing.

“But until you get on track and understand what the car is doing, but with new circuits and stuff it’s hard to say exactly how prepared we are.

“We feel like we’ve done the preparation that we need to do.”

Drivers are expecting the highly technical, fast and flowing circuit to offer a significant challenge to master following track walks that were completed yesterday.

Jamie Whincup has already stated that the venue will pose a massive challenge to the whole field, while Nissan Motorsport’s Andre Heimgartner believes a different driving style will be required to achieve results.

Meanwhile, Shane van Gisbergen expects the track to catch out drivers.

While the top teams and drivers are tipped to remain at the sharp end, the chance of a shake up to the form guide has been increased.

Opening Supercars practice is due to begin at 1045 local time.

CLICK HERE for Mark Winterbottom’s guide to mastering a lap of The Bend Motorsport Park.

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