3 Nov 2017

'French Connection' in rise of NZ drivers

6:57 am on 3 November 2017

The Supercars championship leader Jamie Whincup believes there's a French connection to the rise of New Zealand drivers Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard.

The French engineer Ludo Lacroix controversially switched teams after last year's championship, a move labelled as duplicitous by Triple Eight Race boss Roland Dane at the time.

Since his switch, DJR Team Penske have gone from also-rans to title challengers, with the New Zealand pair Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard hot on the heels of Whincup in this year's championship race.

Scott McLaughlin.

Scott McLaughlin. Photo: Photosport

Whincup holds a slender 17-point lead heading into this weekend's Auckland SuperSprint event in New Zealand.

It's the first time the six-time champion has held the series lead this season and he admits Lacroix's switch to DJR Team Penske has raised the difficulty stakes for the Red Bull Holden Racing Team.

"All our intellectual property, all the things that made our cars fast was just taken down the road with Ludo," Whincup said.

"We had to start again. He had all the good of Triple Eight and took all the good of the Penske organisation worldwide. It's combined together and that's where that raw pace is coming from."

Whincup still believes the team dynamic at Triple Eight and their experience in closing out championships can prove crucial over this weekend's event and the season finale in Newcastle.

Triple Eight has dominated at the 2.91km Pukekohe Park Raceway in recent years, winning five of the past seven races at the circuit.