After producing the “Lap of the Gods”, Ford’s record-breaking Scott McLaughlin was reduced to mere mortal status at Sunday’s Bathurst 1000.
In a huge blow to his Supercars championship hopes, McLaughlin’s Great Race lasted just 74 laps before retiring with mechanical issues at a wet and wild Mount Panorama.
A day after “the greatest day of my life”, McLaughlin cut a shattered figure as another shot at becoming King of the Mountain slipped through his grasp, along with the championship lead.
His dreaded DNF ensured he slipped from first to third in the standings heading into the next round on the Gold Coast from October 20-22.
“We had a really good shot at it (Bathurst win), in the wet as well,” McLaughlin said.
“Unfortunately that is how it goes, it’s a tough old race to win – I just have to move on.”
No one saw McLaughlin’s fizzer on Sunday coming – certainly not anyone who witnessed his heroics barely 24 hours earlier.
Quite simply McLaughlin could do no wrong ahead of the 161-lap classic.
He left the Bathurst faithful in shock and himself in tears of joy on Saturday when he clocked two minutes, 03.83 seconds – the fastest Supercars lap ever seen on the infamous Mount Panorama street circuit.
McLaughlin became the first to crack the 2:04min barrier on the mountain after shattering the record mark he had set barely 24 hours earlier in Friday’s practice.
It earned him the new “Lap of the Gods” tag at Mount Panorama, first coined when fellow New Zealander Greg Murphy shattered the lap record back in 2003.
It seemed the sky was the limit on Sunday.
Instead he came crashing back to earth.
“Yesterday will always be pretty special in my mind, knowing that we were the fastest car in the dry,” McLaughlin said.
“Sometimes luck is not on your side and you need luck on a day like this.”
After the heavens opened, the pole sitter went wide in the slippery conditions on the first corner on lap four, relinquishing his lead and falling back to sixth.
Then his Falcon began to falter, losing oil pressure.
Suddenly McLaughlin’s Bathurst curse had struck again.
Remarkably the Ford gun has never finished on the Bathurst 1000 podium.
His best finish is fifth in 2015 despite starting on the front row for the third straight year.
McLaughlin was more concerned about his championship hopes after his Bathurst disappointment.
He arrived at the mountain leading the series, 84 points clear of Holden great Jamie Whincup.
However he is now third 97 points adrift of new leader, Ford teammate Fabian Coulthard.
“Of course it concerns me. It is a massive hit to my championship,” McLaughlin said.
“I have undone a lot of good work that I have done.”