Scott McLaughlin shatters course record, grabs Supercars pole in Sydney

The cream has risen to the top in qualifying for the first Supercars night race in Australia for 21 years.

After some surprises were thrown up in the first practice yesterday, Ford star Scott McLaughlin smashed the track record at Sydney Motorsport Park with a scorching lap of 1:27.9494.

The championship leader's scintillating display saw him take his 11th pole position of the season and 44th of his career.

At just 25, McLaughlin sits in third behind only seven-time champion Jamie Whincup and the legendary Peter Brock on the all-time pole list.

"I'm stoked for everyone here, the car was awesome and it was a tough qualifying session," McLaughlin said.

"I'm still getting used to those (qualifying) three-stage ones but I think they're great for the fans."

He will be joined on the front-row by his Shell V-Power teammate Fabian Coulthard for the historic race under lights tonight.

It's the sport's first weekend racing under lights in Australia since 1997's Calder Park round, with 60 temporary light towers set-up around the Eastern Creek circuit.

The New Zealand ace's biggest threat to his push for a maiden title, Red Bull Holden's Shane van Gisbergen, will start from third and Nissan veteran Rick Kelly snatched fourth.

Holden star Whincup battled hard to get to fifth in a boost for his confidence.

Drivers are predicting the sole race of the round to be a "wildcard" considering the series hasn't raced under lights since heading to Abu Dhabi in 2011.

Adding into the mix, it's a 300km endurance test that is worth double the points of a regular race.

McLaughlin has a 131-point gap on van Gisbergen in the championship after the pair split the two races at Ipswich last month.

Coulthard and Whincup won the two Sydney races last year.

Scott McLaughlin of DJR Team Penske during the Coateshire Newcastle 500,  at the , Newcastle, New South Wales, November 24, 2017. Copyright photo: Clay Cross /
Scott McLaughlin Source: Photosport


Former Formula 1 champion Niki Lauda in hospital after lung transplant operation

Three-time Formula One world champion Niki Lauda has undergone a lung transplant.

The Vienna General Hospital says the operation was performed Thursday because of a "serious lung illness." It didn't give more specific details in a brief statement and said the 69-year-old Austrian's family would make no public comment.

Lauda won the Formula One title in 1975, 1977 and 1984.

He suffered serious burns in a fiery crash at the German Grand Prix in 1976. Lauda has twice undergone kidney transplants, in 1997 and 2005.

Lauda was appointed as Mercedes' non-executive chairman in 2012 and was involved in the signing of Lewis Hamilton to the F1 team.

Niki Lauda.
Niki Lauda. Source: Getty



Retiring legend Craig Lowndes backs support for more Supercars night races

Retiring Holden great Craig Lowndes has called for Supercars to introduce more night events as the championships braces to race under lights in Sydney.

There is an air of unpredictability around the 10th event of the season this weekend as the last Supercars night race was seven years ago in Abu Dhabi.

You have to go all the way back to 1997 at Melbourne's Calder Park when a race was last staged under lights in Australia.

Lowndes is better equipped than almost any driver in the field to cope with night racing, having started his glittering Supercars career with an after-dark win at Sydney Motorsport Park in 1996.

The 44-year-old is excited about getting a final chance to test himself under lights this Saturday night before he hangs up the helmet at the end of the year.

"The concept is awesome. I would like to see more night racing," Lowndes said.

"I think we have some great circuits which can bring the right atmosphere, like Darwin and Townsville, and would provide the perfect environment to race under lights.

"It allows families to go to work or do what they need to do during the day, then get out to the circuits later to relax and watch us going around at night."

While his win 22 years ago was around a short track, this one is set to be an endurance test.

The 300km spectacle will be the longest single driver race since 2003.

The sole race of the weekend is worth 300 points (double a regular race) meaning it could have serious championship ramifications.

Ford ace Scott McLaughlin heads to the NSW capital with a 131-point gap on Red Bull Holden's Shane van Gisbergen after the pair split the two races at Ipswich last month.

Practice will get underway on Friday at 6pm, with the main event starting at 7.20pm on Saturday as more than 50 temporary light towers have been installed around the Eastern Creek track.

Craig Lowndes