Photo: DJR Team Penske

Scott McLaughlin: “The start was the key to race success”

Friday’s Melbourne 400 race winner Scott McLaughlin has attributed his recent form at the race start to his so-far perfect start to the season.

As one of the sport’s best qualifiers, McLaughlin has been a common feature on the front row of the grid since joining DJR Team Penske in 2017, however his launches off the line have seen him often slip back down the order on the opening lap.

After one of the best starts in the opening race of the Melbourne 400 weekend, McLaughlin said his win was down to getting off the line well.

“I felt like we were pretty good from the start,” he said.

“I had a really good start, one of the best starts I’ve ever done and got in to turn one pretty easily. Basically, I tried pulling a gap at the start because when they pulled into the pits before me, there was two seconds, the gain.

“We had to try and work on that but me and Fabs (Fabian Coulthard), we did alright. Hopefully I get one of those starts again for the short race because I think we’re good over the distance and then for the long one.

“I just want to be consistent, keep adding points where last year we didn’t do that.”

He also put down his form off the line down to working with Coulthard who has been one of the benchmark starters on the grid.

“My starts have been progressively getting better since I joined the team; I had a great starter in the car next door (Coulthard) to get my head around it.

“(I’ve) Just been focusing on the process and continually doing the same thing each time. Where I was losing last year was the launch part so now I’m actually getting the launch and then going. Just got to try and keep it going now.”

Coulthard noted that with the ban on twin-spring dampers this year, getting the cars away from their grid spots is harder than previously.

“I think the linear springs made a difference at the starts. It’s definitely made the starts even more tricky than they were.”

McLaughlin will be looking to launch the #17 Mustang from pole again tomorrow ahead of the 1000th Australian Touring Car Championship race but he’ll have Chaz Mostert keeping him company on the front row, the Tickford driver going from 22nd to fifth in Friday’s race.