With an almost unassailable championship lead, Supercars star Scott McLaughlin is vowing to hold nothing back at next month's Bathurst 1000.
The DJR Team Penske driver claimed his 17th win of the season in a controversial race on Sunday at Pukekohe Park in New Zealand.
The victory not only breaks the record for most wins in a season but extends McLaughlin's lead to a whopping 598 points heading into the October 13 endurance race at Mount Panorama.
That cushion means McLaughlin can pursue his first Bathurst title, knowing even a failure to finish will have almost zero impact on his title defence.
"It gives me a bit of room to attack, if I need to, at the end of the race or throughout the weekend or in qualifying and that," the New Zealander said.
"I'm really excited. I'm just going to treat it like I'm out of the championship in some ways.
"Just going to have a crack, that's the big one I want to get and everyone else does that hasn't won it. It's everything to a lot of people."
The 26-year-old's best Bathurst finish is a third last year alongside Frenchman Alex Premat, with the pair to combine again in 2019.
Another driver out to break a Bathurst duck is McLaughlin's nearest championship rival, Shane Van Gisbergen.
The Red Bull Holden Racing Team star claimed the coveted Jason Richards Memorial Trophy after a win and a second-place finish at his hometown track.
The much-improved weekend is a vital confidence boost for Van Gisbergen, as he looks to outlast McLaughlin's dominant Mustang alongside three-time Bathurst champion Garth Tander.
"It's good to have a nice car in the high-speed corners. Certainly I feel like the aeros (aerodynamics) got better as we've talked about a lot but it'll be interesting to see how it goes at Bathurst," he said.
"Particularly with a longer straight, how much it slows us down.
"It feels like we can be on a closer playing field ... certainly feel better about it."
Australian Associated Press