McLaughlin aims to fly NZ flag at Pukekohe

It’s been a V8 season to forget for Scott McLaughlin but there’s still a chance for the proud New Zealander to replicate the favourite moment of his career this weekend.

McLaughlin, 22, is on home turf at the Auckland 500 where he was a winner in 2013, his “best ever” race since joining the sport.

But the race win feels a lifetime ago, given the Volvo man’s woes this season.

Whether it was at the opening race meet at the Clipsal 500 when he jumped a start, losing power mid-race in Townsville or a series of issues in between, the Christchurch native has not kicked on from a fifth-placed finish in 2014.

He’s also lost his qualifying edge after tying with Jamie Whincup for most poles (10) in 2014, down to just three this season.

McLaughlin describes it as a part of the learning experience.

“It’s been character building,” he laughs.

“I knew there would be bad days, but the bad days have been pretty full on this year.”

At least there is the confidence that a last-out pole brings, as well as the extra motivation from racing on home turf.

“Its been tough this year but we had a good round last tound at the Gold Coast,” he said.

“The fans really come out and show support for the four Kiwi dudes and the track itself should suit us very well, it’s a lot like a street circuit in some ways, it’s very bumpy.”

McLaughlin has been spared the fate of a number of drivers, having to scramble to find new homes in 2016.

The latest to switch was David Reynolds, who will swap his Ford Falcon for an Erebus Mercedes next year as Prodrive frees up its No.55 seat for a newcomer.

Volvo brings across a new team-mate for McLaughlin in 2016 as James Moffat joins from Nissan to replace David Wall.

McLaughlin said he hadn’t given any thought to trading away his current drive but would assess his position – just as his manufacturer is – after the 2016 season.

“There’s been a lot of chopping and changing,” he said.

“It’s been pretty tough this year and I’ve still got another year on my contract, I’ve just been pushing on to get on with the job.

“But you just never know, at the moment I’m in pretty happy spot, it’d have to be pretty close to perfect for me to move somewhere else.”

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