The heat will be on defending Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin in more ways than one at this weekend’s season-opening round in Adelaide.
With cabin temperatures tipped to reach almost 70C, former Supercars champ Russell Ingall has also tipped a “fired up” Jamie Whincup to make Ford’s McLaughlin sweat.
Ingall said Holden great Whincup would be seething after failing to add to his seven championships last season and would be out to vent his frustration.
Ingall expected McLaughlin to still be the driver to beat despite his Ford team switching from Falcons to Mustangs this year – the first time since 1990 they will be sighted on the grid.
But Ingall warned McLaughlin to look over his shoulder, saying Whincup would be out for vengeance along with his Red Bull teammate Shane van Gisbergen.
McLaughlin claimed his maiden Supercars championship last year, pipping van Gisbergen by just 71 points.
“Whincup will be fired up again,” Ingall told speedcafe.com.
“He had unfortunate circumstances last year that sort of kept him out the championship hunt in the end while SVG was right there until the death.
“For anyone not to tip them, you’d have to be crazy.
“I don’t think they’ll be the fastest but they’ll be consistent. This year could be about consistency more so than just going for outright wins.”
Ingall also believed McLaughlin would be under pressure if his DJR Team Penske teammate Fabian Coulthard had another disappointing season.
Ingall said with the Red Bull challenge looming, McLaughlin would need all the help he could get from Coulthard who finished a distant ninth in the 2018 standings.
There is already speculation that Coulthard may be replaced by Ford gun Chaz Mostert in 2020.
“Hopefully, Fabian will pull his finger out a bit this year too and have a better run because you need a strong team-mate,” Ingall said.
“You need it because if it comes down to the crunch time at the end of the year, whoever’s in front may need help.”
Still, Ingall believed McLauglin would take some beating.
“He’s going be stronger, he knows how to do it (win championships) and I think that car is going to be better so you’d have to lock him in (as a favourite),” he said.
Drivers were greeted in Adelaide on Tuesday with the ominous news that temperatures were set to soar past 40C at the tough street circuit for this weekend’s two 78-lap races – with cabin temperatures up to 30C hotter.
“It’s going to be brutal for sure,” Holden recruit and former series champ Mark Winterbottom told supercars.com.
The opening round will start with Thursday’s practice.