Bathurst commitment for Barber, says McLaughlin

Scott McLaughlin believes Barber Motorsports Park requires a commitment level similar to that of the legendary Mount Panorama circuit.

The New Zealander topped the opening practice session of the weekend in Alabama with the 75 minutes disrupted on three occasions by red flags.

Asked why road courses appear to suit his style more than ovals or street tracks, McLaughlin said: “Maybe there’s just a little bit less going on.

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“There’s a lot going on, don’t get me wrong, but I think from bumps and standpoints of just how physical these cars are, it’s probably on the lesser side – although this place is very hard on the neck because of the high speed.

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“I really put Barber down as one of the most committed tracks I’ve ever driven on. And from the perspective of racing Supercars on Bathurst and the commitment of laps there, this is a very similar level in terms of just committing to a lap and trusting what you have underneath you, even if you don’t understand what is underneath you.

“Our test translated really nicely and I’m really comfortable but there’s a lot of laps left to go.”

Suggested by Speedcafe that the 2019 Bathurst 1000 winner appeared to have forgotten he was no longer in his Ford Mustang when hopping the kerbs on occasion at Turn 9, McLaughlin added: “That’s what’s cool about this track.

“There are lots of different corners and then you’ve got this high-speed stuff – the seven, eight, nine section where you’ve got to use a lot of commitment over the kerbs and then slow it down into a bowl.

“It’s very hard physically on the body. It’s probably one of the hardest in terms of that, so fitness-wise, you’ve got to be alright.”

Despite stressing the physicality of the Barber venue, the Penske driver conceded this aspect actually comes second to the mental stress of completing 90 laps of the 3.83 kilometre venue.

“If it turns into a fuel race, which it has in the last few years, you’ve got to think about saving fuel but trying to maximise the speed as well,” he said.

“There’s a lot to think about around this track but definitely, at the end of Sunday night, you’re mentally drained more so than physically, which is pretty crazy.

“I love racing here. I think it’s one of our best road courses on the calendar.”

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