Scott McLaughlin will make his full-time debut in the V8 Supercars Championship next year, after Garry Rogers Motorsport announced that the 19-year-old has signed to race for the team on a multi-year deal.
McLaughlin is widely regarded as a touring car star in the making,e and his 2012 season gave every reason to support that theory. McLaughlin won the inaugural New Zealand SuperTourers championship title, and secured the V8 Development Series title at last weekend’s season finale at Sydney Olympic Park.
That same weekend, he made his debut solo V8SC appearance for GRM, replacing the indisposed Alexandre Premat, who was ruled out of Sunday’s finale race after being hospitalised with severe dehydration on Saturday. McLaughlin finished a lapped seventeenth at the end of the 250-kilometre race (pictured above).
His signing with GRM is not unexpected in paddock circles, with McLaughline having enjoyed the backing of the team’s naming rights sponsor, Fujitsu. The team was also rumoured to have scouted the youngster for some time when it became a certainty that it would have to replace Michael Caruso at the end of the season – Caruso is tipped to join Kelly Racing next year.
“[Scott’s] a level-headed young man who has shown great race craft and I was very impressed with his endurance racing this year, while his Dunlop Series championship speaks for itself,” GRM team owner Garry Rogers said in the team’s media announcement.
“I think Scott will gel well with our boys and his experience driving the prototype Car of The Future last year will also be advantageous going forward.”
GRM is yet to confirm the identity of McLaughlin’s team-mate for 2013. Despite a largely disappointing rookie season – in which he was benched for the Gold Coast double-header after a poor showing at the Bathurst 1000 – Premat performed strongly in his final outing before his medically-induced race retirement, looking on course for a top-five finish after making his first ‘Top-10 Shootout’ qualifying appearance, in which he qualified fourth-fastest.
The news of McLaughlin’s signing also means that the V8 Supercars grid will have at least one New Zealander on the grid in 2013, following the sudden retirement of Shane van Gisbergen at the end of the season. McLaughlin’s V8 compatriots, Fabian Coulthard and Greg Murphy, currently remained unsigned for 2013.