Photo: DJR Team Penske

Scott McLaughlin relishes in close inter-team battle

Championship leader Scott McLaughlin has praised the ability to fight with his team-mate Fabian Coulthard this year after the pair secured another one-two finish for DJR Team Penske.

After locking out the front row for the opening race of the Phillip Island round, the Kiwis were able to control the race from the front, creating a big gap to the rest of the field off the line which allowed them to fight it out on the opening lap.

McLaughlin heralded the team effort to get his and the team’s seventh win from nine races this year and his seventh pole in a row at the iconic circuit.

“We just controlled the race from the start which is awesome,” he said post-race.

“It’s awesome to get a race win here again, I love this place. We (DJR Team Penske) have got a start time page and I’d love to know how equal they were because it felt the same. He (Coulthard) didn’t want to back out, I didn’t want to either but the aim of the game is not to make contact, we didn’t and it was awesome racing. That’s why he’s a great team mate.

“It was so even, the launch and the jump and we just drove away together. (Into turn one) I threw it in there and I knew Fabs would as well but if anyone needs to regard our respect for each other, that’s it there.

“We race hard and we realise how important it is to have pit priority but it was legit. Thanks to the Tickford guys for letting me drive through their (pit) boom, my engine shut off so I had to turn it back on.

“It was an awesome battle with me and Fabs; we get on well, it really pushes the team and you see battles like that, it really motivates the guys. Everyone enjoys it and gets pumped up about it which is cool.

Only taking two tyres in his only pit stop of the race, McLaughlin’s stop time was less than that of anyone else in the pack but the defending series champion said he wasn’t in favour of only servicing the working side of the car at first.

“I didn’t feel like the two tyre thing, I think we had enough buffer maybe to do four but I understand it was just a bit of risk. Just get a nice clean stop, more guys on the right side but my car was good enough to hold it.

“Around here, the left side tyres don’t get used as much but it was quite a battle at the end, I had to wheel it pretty hard around the right hand corners because I didn’t have enough grip through there.”

McLaughlin will be looking to clean sweep Phillip Island for the second year in a row tomorrow after taking pole and victory in both races last year, as well as back in 2016 with Garry Rogers Motorsport.

Holding a 136 point lead to his team-mate, McLaughlin is heading the charge for DJR Team Penske to claim a second teams’ championship as they currently sit 418 points ahead of current champions, Triple Eight.