The “Lap of the Gods” officially has a new owner at Mount Panorama.
Fourteen years after Greg Murphy entered Supercars folklore on the mountain, fellow flying New Zealander Scott McLaughlin has created his own legend by setting an astonishing lap record to claim pole position for Sunday’s Bathurst 1000.
The Supercars series leader clocked a stunning two minutes, 03.83 seconds in Saturday’s top-10 qualifying shootout, eclipsing his own mark set in Friday’s practice by 0.31 of a second.
The Ford gun became the first driver to crack the 2min:04sec barrier on the unforgiving mountain.
And the 24-year-old was the first to break the Mount Panorama lap record in a top-10 shootout since Murphy’s famous “Lap of the Gods” in 2003.
Murphy might be a four-time King of the Mountain but will always be remembered for that lap.
Under enormous pressure, Murphy clocked 2:06.85 in a single flying lap in top-10 qualifying to break the then lap record and stun the Bathurst crowd.
Murphy’s milestone still endears the Supercars faithful despite being left behind after six-time Bathurst champion Craig Lowndes had first eclipsed it in 2010 on a resurfaced Mount Panorama.
But McLaughlin did his best to ensure it might soon become a distant memory after his remarkable qualifying effort that left the Ford driver in tears.
“Oh, my God. I am over the moon,” he said.
“But I knew we could do that.
“I could hear the fans. It was crazy, so thank you.
“That was the most-incredible moment of my life.
“It is something I will never forget.”
McLaughlin has a maiden Bathurst title in his sights after topping qualifying ahead of Holden’s David Reynolds (2:04.27) and Ford’s 2013 Bathurst champion Mark Winterbottom (2:04.49).
All eyes were on McLaughlin when he emerged as the last man on the track for the shootout after Friday’s record book assault.
McLaughlin set 2:04.14 in Friday’s practice to obliterate Holden great Jamie Whincup’s 2015 lap record by a whopping 0.76 of a second.
It was a hard act to follow.
And it seemed McLaughlin might struggle to deliver.
He looked to have dashed any chance of pole position, let alone a record, when he tapped the side at The Cutting and went wide on top of the mountain.
Yet, somehow McLaughlin hung on to produce the fastest lap at Mount Panorama by a Supercar – yet again.
“It just managed to hold itself together and I brought it home – it’s pretty amazing,” said McLaughlin.
The Ford ace’s effort sent the Bathurst faithful into a frenzy with McLaughlin even receiving a trackside haka from a very merry Kiwi motorsport fan.
Asked if he would be able to sleep tonight, McLaughlin said: “I better. But I will enjoy it. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
McLaughlin’s record-breaking pole ensures he will start on the front row of the grid for the 18th-straight race.
He has not featured outside the front row since the opening round.
Winterbottom was in awe.
“When things like that (record) happen, you just sit back and admire it, and appreciate what someone has done – it’s a special moment in history for our sport,” he said.