Triple Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin has declared series leaders Triple Eight can “crack under pressure” as he backed his old team Dick Johnson Racing to hit back after a lean weekend at Sandown.
In McLaughlin’s absence as he prepares to ignite his IndyCar career next month, the former
Ford star’s rivals Triple Eight have made a dominant start to the 2021 Supercars season with Shane van Gisbergen winning all five races so far.
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After two rounds, van Gisbergen has already raced to a 155-point lead in the championship ahead of his Red Bull Ampol Racing teammate, seven-time champion Jamie Whincup.
It’s given Triple Eight a 335-point lead over Walkinshaw Andretti United in the teams championship with DJR sitting sixth after its new driver pairing Will Davison and Anton De Pasquale failed to podium at Sandown last weekend.
While acknowledging van Gisbergen’s brilliant start to the year, McLaughlin said Triple Eight were a “confidence” team and could come undone when the pressure was on.
“He has got off to an unbelievable start. Shane and Triple Eight are very confidence driven,” McLaughlin told News Corp.
Shane van Gisbergen drives the #97 Red Bull Ampol Holden Commodore ZB during race 3 of the Sandown SuperSprint. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
“When they are confident, Shane the driver, he is very good and when his team is confident, they are very good.
“That’s one thing we did over a number of years, four or five years, we put pressure on them and they cracked.
“They should have probably won the championship in 2018, they made mistakes and we won it and we capitalised and it was the same in obviously 2017 I felt they did a similar thing.
“They managed to hold on obviously with my mistakes, but I feel like they are a team that once you start out-qualifying them, you put pressure on them in the race, that they will crack like anyone.
“I certainly think they are beatable, but people have got to get faster and they (Triple Eight) have got their stuff right.”
Van Gisbergen had won every race of the Supercars season this year.Source:Supplied
McLaughlin claimed the past three Supercars championships before making the move to the United States to try his luck in IndyCar with Team Penske.
The post-McLaughlin era at DJR has delivered just one podium in five races for the Ford team — Davison’s third in the opening race at the Bathurst 500.
The team’s best results at Sandown were a fifth place for De Pasquale in the first Sandown sprint and a fifth in the last for Davison.
“It’s been a very difficult start for them. Bathurst, with two new drivers, it’s always difficult,” McLaughlin said.
“There’s no miracle, you can’t go there with two new drivers and expect crazy results, but I thought they did an awesome job. To be honest our cars last year at Bathurst were terrible.
“I thought for them to be fast (at Bathurst 500), Anton getting a provisional pole was fantastic and they have gone to Sandown now, which was the one track that I never won at.
Scott McLaughlin won the past three Supercars championships before heading to the US. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
“We just weren’t fast enough and Triple Eight were so good and then they got to Tasmania and I think it is going to be another tough one but if they keep getting points and stuff, that’s the main thing.
“They just need to get through this period because they will have gone to three tracks that are very strong for Triple Eight — and others — and have not necessarily been our best tracks.
“I back them for sure. If they get some time and some experience in the cars and experience with the driver and engineers and then get to some tracks where the car handles well and we know the set-up and all that sort of stuff, they will be fine.”
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DJR’s new drivers Will Davison and Anton De Pasquale. Picture: Glenn HampsonSource:News Corp Australia
McLaughlin said van Gisbergen’s superhuman effort to sweep the round at Sandown with a broken collarbone — and his has since revealed with three broken ribs as well — as “impressive”
“He is very mentally strong and when he wants to do something, he can do it, it doesn’t matter, he just does it,” McLaughlin said.
“It takes a lot of mental strength to do something like that.”
Originally published asMcLaughlin: How rivals can make Triple Eight ‘crack’
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