McLaughlin sets pace at Australian GP
THE Mustangs are set to dominate the Supercars meet at the Australian Grand Prix, with Scott McLaughlin leading four Fords at the top of the timing charts in practice.
McLaughlin was two-tenths away from breaking the practice lap record set by DJR Team Penske garage-mate Fabian Coulthard, scorching the Albert Park circuit with a 1:54.5518 lap on Thursday.
Coulthard was second ahead of two Tickford Racing entries, Chaz Mostert and Cam Waters.
All six Fords in the 24-strong field were among the top 10.
Mostert, battling a nasty cold but still fastest in the first practice session, was honest about whether his Mustang could get close to the dominant DJR entries.
"I'd probably say no but we'll see how we go in the next one," he said. "We've still got a little bit to find but I don't know if we've got that speed."
Nick Percat, one of the top Holdens in seventh after practice, was even more blunt on the field's hopes of being competitive in Melbourne.
"We probably could have been quickest Holden but nothing on what the Penske car did," he said.
"We'll see if we can challenge the Mustangs. We might have to change the body shape to catch them."
Parity among the field will explode as an issue if McLaughlin, already the reigning champion, extends his series lead at the Grand Prix.
The Kiwi star was untouchable at the Adelaide 500, winning both races in style. Mostert looks the likeliest bet to challenge the New Zealanders on the evidence of practice - despite his man-flu.
"I've had it since Adelaide. I'm losing my voice and got those hot feels on," he said.
"Once you're in (the car) it's fine."
Shane van Gisbergen endured a tough day, battling a torrid splitter vibration to finish well down the order in both sessions.
The Supercars field will race for championship points and the Larry Perkins Trophy in Melbourne, competing over four races between Friday and Sunday. Qualifying for the first two races takes place later on Thursday afternoon.
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