McLaughlin quickest in practice but almost comes a cropper
RELENTLESS pacesetter Scott McLaughlin has narrowly dodged a high-speed crash with Supercars upstart James Golding at Phillip Island.
The DJR Team Penske ace and series leader put his Mustang on top of the timing charts in practice ahead of Saturday's race at 3.50pm (AEST).
With McLaughlin's 1:30.1861 time narrowly keeping teammate Fabian Coulthard from top spot on Saturday morning, the pair will start hot favourites to dominate the weekend's races.
But McLaughlin almost came a cropper as he flew down the main straight into turn one on a flying lap, only to find Golding in front of him.
The 23-year-old, driving for McLaughlin's old team Garry Rogers Motorsport, had just emerged from pit lane and was weaving his tyres to come up to race pace.
Neither the driver nor his team saw McLaughlin, who had priority, coming and Golding effectively cut off McLaughlin, who slammed on the brakes and took evasive action.
"It was pretty wild ... a bit of a balls-up," McLaughlin said
"It's not the nicest thing coming down the front straight and cars weaving going into one of the fastest corners in Australia."
The move denied McLaughlin the chance to lower his quickest time further.
"At least it's only practice," he said.
"James is a smart guy. He won't do it again.
"I was stoked with that second lap ... the car is really quick. It was just unfortunate as I wanted to go quicker."
The incident will be reviewed by race officials, with Golding apologetic.
"I was warming my tyres up after the pits and didn't see Scotty come up behind me. I wouldn't ever do anything like that on purpose," he said.
"It's my fault just as much as the team."
While a DJR Team Penske victory appears certain on Phillip Island, rival Jamie Whincup at least found pace on Saturday and should challenge.
Whincup missed a qualifying cutoff on Friday but emerged on Saturday with an improved Commodore.
"I was pretty disappointed yesterday not getting in the 10 but today's a new day," he said.
"We've definitely made improvement on the car ... we're chipping away."