2017 SUPERCARS – SVPRT BATHURST 1000 POLE POSITION MCLAUGHLIN/PREMAT 1:64
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Scott McLaughlin carved himself a special place in the history of Mount Panorama when he took pole position for the 2017 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
The Kiwi took his #17 Shell V-Power Racing Team Falcon around the famous circuit in a stunning 2m03.8312s to not only take pole but also record the fastest lap ever seen by a Supercar around the 6.213-kilometre layout.
The lap was likened to his childhood hero Greg Murphy’s ‘Lap of the Gods’ from 14 years earlier given it was millimetre perfect, on the edge of adhesion and resulted in a stunning time that sent shockwaves down the pit lane. It also gave Dick Johnson’s famous team its first pole position for the Bathurst 1000 since 1992. It had been 25 long years since Johnson himself took pole in the familiar #17 Shell Sierra.
McLaughlin’s Bathurst pole was his record 14th of the season and gave him his 18th straight front row qualifying result, second only in championship history to the late, great Peter Brock. “I dreamed of doing this since I was a kid,” said a beaming McLaughlin after the lap aboard chassis DJRTP04 built by DJR Team Penske. “It’s the best day of my life, and I still can’t quite believe it. I knew we could do that, and it’s a massive credit to the team that they’ve given me a car capable of it. We’ve still got plenty of work ahead of us tomorrow, but what an incredible day. I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.”
After all of the excitement of the late Saturday Shootout, Sunday race day turned out to be a day that ended in disappointment for McLaughlin and co-driver, Frenchman Alex Premat. An engine problem affected the #17 Falcon from early in the race (which started in wet conditions) from around one-quarter race distance. The car was brought into the pits for a recycle of power in a bid to clear the issue and a new programming map was loaded into the car’s electronic control unit. Sadly it was all to no avail and eventually the pole-sitting car came to a halt just before half race distance with Premat at the wheel to bring out the first Safety Car of the day. “It hurts to go out of the race like that, something that’s not really within our control,” said McLaughlin. “I was getting ready to get into the car when the engine went, and Alex had to pull over on the side of the track. It doesn’t take away what we did yesterday, knowing we were the fastest car around Mount Panorama, but that’s how it goes. It’s a tough old race to win, and now we have to move on.”
McLaughin’s co-driver Premat had finished second in the previous year’s Bathurst race alongside Shane van Gisbergen and had been primed to try and win ‘The Great Race’ for the first time. “Everything was there for us this weekend,” said Premat. “We had pace, the car was a jet but Bathurst is not an easy place to win and it wasn’t our year. It was pretty heartbreaking being in the car when the engine stopped, but then I got to watch a lot of the race from the side of the track at McPhillamy Park!”
While the #17 McLaughlin/Premat Falcon ultimately wasn’t able to claim victory in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, it did drive its way into a very special place in the history books of the most famous track in Australia.