Reigning Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin made the perfect start to his quest to capture Darwin’s elusive Triple Crown after topping practice sessions on Friday.
McLaughlin is looking to become the first driver to claim the triple at Hidden Valley Raceway, as no competitor past or present has claimed the round’s two races and top-10 shootout since its inception in 2006.
The New Zealander has been almost unstoppable this season with 10 wins and nine poles from 14 races and his red-hot form has continued in the Top End.
McLaughlin posted the quickest lap of the day during practice sessions in his Ford Mustang and finished 0.141 seconds ahead of his DJR Team Penske teammate Fabian Coulthard.
The 26-year-old has made no secret of his desire to become the first Triple Crown winner and believes the goal is attainable.
“It’s about executing as a team. It’s a tough thing to do and that’s why it hasn’t been done before, but if we do execute we’re going to be able to get it done,” McLaughlin said.
“But it’s tough, race wins are hard to come by and shootouts are just as hard to get that lap right, so we’ll see how we go.
“We’ve started off well. It was a good lap for me today, I was bit soft in areas but overall pretty happy.”
McLaughlin is leading the championship by a massive 244 points and can overtake Peter Brock (57) into second on the all-time pole positions list with two qualifying wins this weekend.
Coulthard sits second in the title race but said he was happy to see his teammate dominate.
“Any time you’re on the podium it’s good. What you strive for within a race team is finishing one-two. If you can do that you’re executing well as a team,” he said.
“We can’t both win. We’ve seen at times this year I’ve won races and Scott has won pretty much the rest of them.
“Everyone has said we’re experiencing greatness and that’s what it is.”
Red Bull Racing’s Jamie Whincup rounded out the top three in practice and the seven-time Supercars champion said he was hoping to unearth some secrets in the data to stall McLaughlin’s march to another title.
“The car is reasonable, not the quickest, but we’re the best of the rest and we’re chipping away,” he said.
“We’re still lacking grip overall. It’s hot, the track slowly deteriorates… a little bit more grip would be nice, but how to do that I don’t know.”
Chaz Mostert was fourth quickest ahead of Dave Reynolds, Lee Holdsworth, Anton De Pasquale, James Courtney, Cam Waters, and Mark Winterbottom.