Champ’s vow to make Holden farewell tour a nightmare
Defending champion Scott McLaughlin has vowed to spoil Holden's farewell party from Supercars.
The Ford star said he expected emotions to run high among the Holden drivers at this weekend's Adelaide 500 after news the brand would cease to exist in Australia by the end of the year.
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While respectful of Holden's proud history in the sport, McLaughlin said he was ready to repel a surge from the soon-to-be-dead Commodores as they fight to go out on a high.
"They were already coming in with a lot of emotion after last year, but they are going to be wanting to send Holden off on a high and we are ready for that," McLaughlin said.
"We want to kind of spoil that party."
McLaughlin, who surged to a record 18 race wins in his Ford Mustang last year, said he was saddened by the announcement of Holden's demise.
"It's sad news. I started my career in that car and obviously to a number of Australians and New Zealanders it's a massive marque for the sport," McLaughlin said.
"But also for people growing up and their livelihood. It's sad, but Supercars will find a way to get around it, I'm sure (TripleEight boss) Roland (Dane) and his team will work something out."
JOHNSON RESIGNED TO LOSING MCLAUGHLIN
DJR Team Penske co-owner Dick Johnson says this year will be Scott McLaughlin's last in Supercars before the Ford star embarks on a racing career in the United States.
McLaughlin has been called up to make his racing debut for Team Penske in an IndyCar at the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in May.
The defending Supercars champion made an instant impression when he tested for the team last week in the US, finishing third fastest at the pre-season hitout in Texas.
McLaughlin is contracted with DJR Team Penske until the end of the year and Johnson said he was resigned to farewelling the New Zealand ace to the US after that.
"It's pretty obvious that he will be gone next year," Johnson said.
"We've just got to make the most of him in this year's championship because he's obviously US-bound.
"It definitely will be (his last year in Supercars) unless something unforeseen happens."
McLaughlin said he would not be treating this season as if it was his last in the series, but has made no secret of his desire to mount a racing career in the US.
Ford legend Johnson said he had no doubt McLaughlin would be a success in IndyCar.
"He has got a pretty good chance of it the way he has acquitted himself and bear in mind that he had never even put his backside in one of those cars before, it's pretty special," Johnson said.
"It is totally different, but when you can drive a motor car of any sort that's what a real driver is.
"He seems to be able to extract … different things out of a car that others can't."
McLaughlin will kick off his big for a third-straight Supercars championship at the season-opening Adelaide 500 this week.
Only three other drivers in the sport's history - Ian Geoghegan, Mark Skaife and Jamie Whincup - have won three or more titles in a row.
The Bathurst 1000 champion said he was focused on again defending his Supercars crown in 2020.
"I'm really excited for the challenge of trying to go back-to-back-to-back," McLaughlin said.
"I feel pretty solid for the season, it's going to be pretty tight, it's going to be a long slog … I've come back (from the US) really excited, jumping back in the car yesterday I was pretty much on it straight away."
McLaughlin made a dominant start to a record-breaking season last year with back-to-back wins in Adelaide and was determined to make an early statement again.
"You can easily come out of here 150-200 points down," McLaughlin said.
"I would love to get away with a couple of top-five finishes … I would be there or thereabouts in the championship because it can go wrong here - the heat, the temperatures, hard on the cars.
"For me the object of this weekend is just to get a solid points haul here so I'm well within the fight."
Supercars teams and drivers have faced a tight turnaround this year with just two days between the pre-season test day and first practice for the opening race of the season in Adelaide.
And not everyone is a fan of the new schedule.
"We're lucky that nobody had any drama because it would have made it a quick turnaround to try and get the cars ready for this weekend," DJR Team Penske driver Fabian Coulthard said.
"Obviously us being a Queensland team it would have been it very tough. It might be something we need to look at."
Coulthard's teammate, defending champion Scott McLaughlin, agreed.
"It's something that I probably don't agree with, testing on the week of a race," McLaughlin said.
RIVALRY NOT DEAD
Ford legend Dick Johnson believes there is still a "huge future" for Holden's parent company General Motors in Supercars.
After this week's shock announcement the Holden brand was being killed off, Johnson said the Ford versus Holden rivalry that has been at the fabric of the sport would never truly die off.
"There's a lot of people up in the stands that will be bitterly disappointed, but in saying that I think there is still a huge future for the General Motors brand here," Johnson said.
"When you see the (Ford) Mustang, the comparable thing is obviously a Camaro. I think they have got something to cheer for,they don't need to be terribly disappointed.
"That (Ford v Holden rivalry) will never disappear. Certainly not in what I've got left of a life because they are either red or they're blue and I can tell you it's a very strong feeling that they have."
A Ford hero, Johnson said he was left shocked by the Holden news.
"I started off with Holden. That in itself for me is where motor racing started," Johnson said.
"It came as a shock to everyone, but in hindsight I think you could see it coming because it has been a downhill slope for quite some time. But I don't think anyone expected for Holden to pull out the way that they have."
Supercars drivers are welcoming a cooler forecast for this week's Adelaide 500.
Traditionally one of the hottest and most physically demanding races on the Supercars calendar, last year's event was raced in scorching conditions as the temperature soared into the 40s.
But the hottest day forecast for this week in Adelaide is 30 degrees on Sunday.
"Last year was tough. Every day was over 40 degrees, but we train in the off-season to try and be as prepared as we can before this event but we'll welcome the cooler temperatures," Coulthard said.