McLaughlin urges Supercars to listen to fans on paddle shift

Scott McLaughlin says he'd be surprised to see Supercars adopt paddle shift given the uproar the idea has prompted from fans.

McLaughlin urges Supercars to listen to fans on paddle shift

The Aussie category is set to move from mechanical to electronic shifting, or Automatic Gear Shift, as part of its Gen3 rules, however the method of input from the driver is yet to be determined.

The two options are an electronic version of the sequential stick shift currently used in the cars, or a move to steering wheel-mounted paddles.

Both systems will be assessed during Gen3 prototype testing, with the Ford Mustang to be fitted with a stick and the Chevrolet Camaro with paddles.

The potential paddle move has been widely criticised by drivers and fans, with concerns that paddles will both make the cars easier to driver, and detract from on-board footage.

Support, in the name of mechanical sympathy, has been significantly less widespread, Triple Eight – which is building the Camaro prototype – known to be the chief proponent of paddles.

Having seen the reaction to the paddle shift debate unfold from his new base in the US, three-time Supercars champion McLaughlin says he'd be surprised to see the series follow through on the move.

He says Supercars officials should listen to fans and protect the "art" of downshifting with a stick while braking.

"I just think it looks better," said the IndyCar Rookie of the Year.

"It's what Supercars racing is all about. When you see the guys and girls going down the gears, going down the hill at Bathurst, it looks so much better than just paddle shift.

"There's a video of the Gen3 engine and Shane [van Gisbergen] was driving it at Queensland Raceway, and it literally looked like he was driving an automatic.

"I'd feel surprised right now, after the uproar, if they did go the paddle shift way. I feel like you've got to listen to your fan base a little bit.

"At the end of the day the shifter is the DNA of Supercars racing. The heel-and-toe... it's what makes driving a Supercar so unique.

"I've said it a number of times; it takes you two, three years to get used to braking, heel-and-toeing, making sure your performance on the brakes is good because you've got to balance holding the right amount of pressure and blipping the right amount of throttle.

"It's an art. And I feel like if you put paddle shifts in, it takes that art away."

Retaining the heel-and-toe technique is no given even if Supercars does opt for the stick over the paddles, with auto-blip able to be programmed as part of the AGS system.

With the current shifting system drivers are known to purposely down shift early to help rotate the car with rear locking.

However that does affect engine and gearbox life, Supercars looking to cut costs by placing less stress on the running gear in the new-spec cars.

The new cars will continue to use the six-speed Xtrac transaxle in the current cars, which can be retrofitted with the AGS system.

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