3 Nov 2018

McLaughlin throws down gauntlet in opening practice session

12:56 pm on 3 November 2018

Supercars title contenders Scott McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen have shown their speed in practice for the showdown meet at Pukekohe Park this weekend.

The top four in the standings - McLaughlin, van Gisbergen, Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes - were the fastest four cars during the Supercars' first practice session at Pukekohe.

McLaughlin was quickest at his home circuit, charting 1 minute and 3.1150 seconds.

Lowndes was second fastest with van Gisbergen third.

McLaughlin, in his second-straight title fight after being pipped to last year's crown by Whincup, said he'd been buoyed by "wicked" levels of support in the crowd.

"Seeing all the people around, there's lot of red around which is not Holden," he said.

"It's going to be a great battle between a couple of Kiwis and a few Aussies."

McLaughlin leads van Gisbergen by 14 points with the two races in New Zealand and two races in Newcastle remaining in the series.

The meet is virtually a two-man showdown given Whincup, in third place, is 419 points behind second-placed van Gisbergen.

The New Zealand meet should be both competitive and action-packed if practice one is anything to go by.

The temperamental track threw plenty of drivers onto the grass, with James Courtney enjoying more excursions off the tarmac than most.

"Each time we changed it we went backwards," Courtney said of his setup changes.

"It's a crazy place this place."