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Story: SVG dominance different if McLaughlin here

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Shane van Gisbergen (left) and Scott McLaughlin (right) are both three-time Supercars champions

Dick Johnson Racing boss Ryan Story believes there would, “probably be a different outcome,” to the dominance of Shane van Gisbergen if former Shell V-Power Racing Team driver Scott McLaughlin still raced in Supercars.

Red Bull Ampol Racing’s van Gisbergen racked up his 21st race win this season on the Gold Coast, beating McLaughlin’s previous record of 18 set back in 2019.

It came on the same weekend the #97 sealed the 2022 Drivers’ Championship, with one round to spare.

Former DJR Team Penske driver, McLaughlin, moved to IndyCar following his third straight Supercars Championship title in 2020 after an increasingly intense on-track rivalry with van Gisbergen had developed.

McLaughlin’s sustained success came after a heartbreaking final round in Newcastle 2017, which saw a showdown between the former DJR driver and record-setting Jamie Whincup, who retired from full-time driving at the end of 2021.

While van Gisbergen overcame Whincup to take the 2021 title,  with both McLaughlin and Whincup out of the picture, van Gisbergen has been left largely without a consistent challenger in 2022 as he smashed records to take his second consecutive and third overall title – matching McLaughlin’s tally, as well as that of former team-mate Craig Lowndes and Peter Brock.

From 32 races this season, van Gisbergen has won a staggering 21, while next-best is Chaz Mostert with a mere four victories, followed by Cameron Waters and Will Davison tied on three, and Anton De Pasquale on one.

Van Gisbergen is in the prime of his career, though his dominance has largely become an expectation for fans.

Asked by Speedcafe.com whether that point is bad for the sport, Story, Executive Chairman and CEO of the Shell V-Power Racing Team said of van Gisbergen: “It’s not bad for the sport — he’s in the zone.

“I think if he had our other Kiwi mate here it would probably be a different outcome.”

auto, autos, car, cars, story: svg dominance different if mclaughlin here

The infamous ‘park-in’ incident between Scott McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen at Pukekohe in 2018

McLaughlin himself attended the Surfers Paradise event, where van Gisbergen did a burnout in front of his fellow Kiwi after winning on Sunday.

After taking an emotional win in front of his home crowd at Pukekohe, van Gisbergen stated he wished McLaughlin was there to help take some of the attention of the adoring fans.

Triple Eight Race Engineering also wrapped up the Teams’ title on the Gold Coast from Dick Johnson Racing with one round remaining.

Both teams will carry unchanged driver line-ups into 2023.

Story still maintains absolute faith in Davison and De Pasquale, though pointed to Gen3 as hindering the squad in 2022.

DJR is the Ford homologation team, while Triple Eight is the Chevrolet homologation team.

“One of the things that we need to continue to work on and continue to focus on is … ensuring our people have all the support that they need and they’re doing everything they can,” he added.

“We’ve been very stretched with Gen3 and we’ve got quite a few of our engineers working on that programme which has had an impact on our performance this year.

“So that’s been a real challenge.

“If you look at Will’s performance, it has been extraordinary.

“Anton has been doing a great job, he’s sitting in a good spot in the championship.

“We’ve got to get him back into the window because we know what he is capable of.”

The final round of the 2022 Supercars season is the Valo Adelaide 500 from December 1-4.

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