McLaughlin pops into Highlands for a circuit

 Reigning V8 Supercar champion Scott McLaughlin took his first drive around Highlands Motorsport...
Reigning V8 Supercar champion Scott McLaughlin took his first drive around Highlands Motorsport Park, in the Cromwell circuit's owner Tony Quinn's Porsche GT3 RS3, yesterday. PHOTO: DYLAN PETCH
"This is my favourite car. One day I'm going to buy a car like this," reigning V8 Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin enthuses, upon spying the Porsche GT3 RS3 he is about to take his debut drive around Highlands Motorsport Park in.

McLaughlin (26) was in Cromwell promoting his book Road to Redemption: A Championship Journey at the end of a three-day tour of New Zealand.

As McLaughlin arrived in his home country off the back of scoring the Triple Crown, in Darwin - winning the Top 10 Shootout and both races - anyone would think he has coming out on top hot-wired into his mindset.

Not so, he insisted, and cast back to his last race disaster in 2017, when his first V8 Supercars Championship was his to lose - and he went ahead and lost it.

He admitted to sinking into a "dark spot" afterwards and credits his mindfulness coach Emma Murray for pulling him out of it and giving him the tools to stay calm in the car.

"Mindfulness has changed me as a driver. Anyone who doesn't want to do it at a high level is missing out."

It is certainly working well for former Christchurch man McLaughlin, who has won 12 of the 16 Supercars races this season and holds a 319-point lead over fellow Kiwi and DJR Team Penske team-mate Fabian Coulthard.

Yesterday's blat around the Highlands track was purely for fun and a reward for surviving the busy, five-city book tour schedule organised by Highlands' chief operating officer Josie Spillane.

McLaughlin described the circuit as "awesome".

"Really cool to drive it for the first time, especially in something so cool like the Porsche.

"It's a track that's got everything. It's got fast and slow corners, chicanes, kerbs you've got to hit, kerbs you've got to stay off. All the stuff you need to learn how to be a really good race car driver," said McLaughlin, who is one of New Zealand's most successful racing exports.

His packed schedule racing around Australia every year has prevented McLaughlin from driving at the Cromwell circuit competitively before, although fans could see him back here in the not-too-distant future.

Spillane relayed to him that her boss, Highlands owner Tony Quinn, was keen to share a drive with him on the track. McLaughlin's eyes drifted across the museum to a gun-metal grey, low-slung super car.

"He said if I come back, I can drive it," he quipped, referring to Quinn's $4.2million Aston Martin Vulcan.

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