Story cagey on who McLaughlin would partner at Bathurst

Scott McLaughlin

One of the benefits that’s emerged from delaying the 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000 is the fact it opens the door for Scott McLaughlin to make a grand return to Supercars.

McLaughlin last week hinted on social media at the likelihood that he’ll compete at Mount Panorama in November and Shell V-Power Racing Team chairman and CEO Ryan Story has confirmed the matter has been discussed.

“We’re in constant touch with Scotty. He’s a great mate and has obviously brought tremendous success to our team over the years and is having a stellar run in the US in his debut season in the IndyCar championship,” Story told Speedcafe.com.

“We feel strongly for our friends in New South Wales with the lockdowns that they’re experiencing with the outbreak but certainly the date change to Bathurst opens up the opportunity, or certainly increases the likelihood and the chance for us to bring Scott across.

“But for us to do that, we’ll go about it the right way, we’ll ensure that we seek the proper approvals and do so within all of the right processes.”

The question remains, which of the team’s new-for-2021 drivers, Will Davison and Anton De Pasquale, would be boosted by having the three-time Supercars champion onboard as their co-driver for the Great Race.

Davison has led Dick Johnson Racing’s charge all season long in the drivers’ championship and carries the iconic #17 previously attached to McLaughlin.

De Pasquale though is the star of the future with speed to burn, and has French mastermind Ludo Lacroix in his corner as race engineer.

Tony D’Alberto is the team’s other contracted co-driver, with Alex Davison on standby should McLaughlin be unavailable.

Story was playing his cards close to his chest when pressed on the matter of driver pairings: “There’s been a lot of speculation around that.

“Obviously he has got a very close connection to #17 but his old crew and engineer are running Car #11.

“So that’s something you will have to wait and see on.”

Regardless, Story is confident McLaughlin will have no qualms getting back up to speed after a year focused on open-wheel racing in the United States.

The 28-year-old’s final commitment of 2021 in terms of IndyCar Series events is the season finale at Long Beach on September 26, seemingly leaving a reasonable window to travel to Australia and complete the necessary quarantine before Bathurst on November 4-7.

“The reality is, he could spend a bit of time in our sim, spend a bit of time with our engineers,” said Story, who is next month taking part in The Long Run charity initiative in support of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.

“I mean, he’s in a number of our debriefs and certainly is across our progress year-to-date.

“But the guy has won the last three championships and with the extra co-driver running that we saw last year, which we expect to be replicated this year, we anticipate that if we are able to get him over, he’ll get up to speed pretty damn quick.”

Supercars’ next round is not scheduled to take place until October 2-3 at Winton Motor Raceway.

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