Supercars supremo Scott McLaughlin has corrected his struggles at The Bend SuperSprint 12 months ago by posting a practice lap record on Friday.
McLaughlin and all Ford drivers battled at Tailem Bend’s inaugural race last year with the Kiwi star finishing sixth and 10th.
He was also fined $30,000 for fitting an incorrect drop gear.
But the runaway 2019 championship leader atoned for past sins with a blistering lap of 1 minute 48.1044 seconds in South Australia, as Ford drivers Chaz Mostert and Cameron Waters rounded out the podium.
McLaughlin has dominated in his Ford Mustang this season and won 14 of 20 races to lead the drivers’ standing by a whopping 433 points ahead of DJR Team Penske teammate Fabian Coulthard.
The 26-year-old said he’d marked Tailem Bend in the calendar this season following the disappointment of last year.
“There was a lot of extra motivation for sure, I circled this event because last year was tough by our standards and I just really wanted to come here and have a good crack,” McLaughlin said.
“It was a lot of hard work. We’re working hard behind the scenes to make our cars better and it’s a new car and it certainly worked out pretty well.
“There’s going to be a few quick excuses out there and people will point to the blue oval (Ford logo) but we’re certainly just happy doing our thing and pushing along.”
Holden dominated at Tailem Bend last year and the track was expected to close the gap on McLaughlin but their first driver across the Dave Reynolds in sixth.
Supercars debutant Thomas Randle finished 10th which earns him an automatic ticket to part two of qualifiers on Saturday.
The 23-year-old also upstaged multiple Bathurst 1000 winners Craig Lowndes, Garth Tander and Stephen Richards and clocked the quickest lap in the co-driver only practice session earlier in the day.
The performance means Randle will almost certainly partner Lee Holdsworth at Bathurst in October.
“It was unbelievable, still pinching myself to get into the 10 first time around,” Randle said.
“It was something in the back of my mind but knowing how tough the competition is here … we knew it was going to be tough but we got the lap in, still a million miles away from the guy next to me (McLaughlin) but really happy for all the guys.
“It has been a great day, quickest in the initial drivers’ session and to end in the 10 is fantastic and we go straight into Q2, for it to come to fruition is really cool.”