There’s no other way to put it regarding Scott McLaughlin’s V8 Supercars week: “It sucks,” he said.
After the highs of Phillip Island, where McLaughlin completed a clean sweep of races and qualifying for the first time in his career, the 22-year-old’s team was thrown into jeopardy by the announcement that Volvo was withdrawing manufacturer support at season’s end.
It spells the likely end to the Swedish company’s short stay in the series and, surely, McLaughlin’s time with the Garry Rogers Motorsport team.
The in-demand driver has been heavily linked with a move to DJR Team Penske next season.
He was again around the top of the timing charts on Friday in practice for this weekend’s meet at Barbagallo Raceway.
Emerging from his S60, McLaughlin refused to contemplate 2017, saying he’d taken it upon himself to lift his team’s spirits.
“It’s been a tough week for the team … it’s a decision that shocked me,” he said.
“From what I heard, (Volvo’s extension) was all good to go.
“It’s time for me and Moff (teammate James Moffat) to step up and be the leaders of the squad, pick everyone up.”
Regardless of whether McLaughlin stays, he expects Rogers, 70, to keep on in the sport.
“He’ll keep fighting. The only reason he won’t be here is because he’s gone. That’s what he’s told me,” he said.
McLaughlin topped the timing charts again in the day’s first practice session.
Holden pair James Courtney and Craig Lowndes were the only two who were quicker in the afternoon session.
Courtney, who won race one of this season, said he was focussed on turning that into a good Saturday showing.
“Would it be nice to qualify at the front? Yeah it’d be great,” he laughed.
“It’s a good morale booster. We’ve all been working hard.”
The Supercars field dealt well with the wet and gloomy conditions all day, with David Reynolds suffering the only major slip-up.
The Holden man brought the opening practice session to a halt after sliding his Commodore into the sand at turn six.
“I was trying to be a hero,” he said, finishing up at the bottom of the charts.
Jamie Whincup encountered battery issues and could only manage 23rd.