Team Vodafone's Jamie Whincup put in another strong performance to win the first race of the SkyCity Triple Crown Australian V8 Supercar weekend at Hidden Valley Raceway.
Whincup grabbed the lead at the start and withstood pressure from Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander early in the race, before opening a gap as the leaders made their pit stops, winning by nearly 15 seconds as drivers close to him in the early laps had dramas in the second half of the race.
Second was Ford Performance's Mark Winterbottom, just over a second ahead of Will Davison who moved up well from ninth on the grid, just holding off teammate Garth Tander who had a slow pitstop and dropped down to fourth.
All alone in fifth was Jack Daniel's Racing's Todd Kelly, while three seconds behind him was Craig Lowndes in sixth, leading a group of five cars covered by just over 1.5 seconds.
Right behind Lowndes was pole man Jason Richards, who benefitted from Tander's slower stop to move up to second only to have an issue at the end of the straight with three laps remaining, running off circuit and falling to fifth, losing another two places in the closing laps.
That the race ran to time, running 34 laps instead of 35, may have saved him another place or two, Richards crossing the line with James Courtney alongside him, team-mate Cameron McConville a tenth of a second behind and Lee Holdsworth less than a second away.
There were few surprises outside the top ten, although Alex Davison moved up well from his starting position of 30th to finish in 19th position.RESULTS:
Pos Driver Make Time
1. Jamie Whincup Ford Falcon FG 41:09.7792
2. Mark Winterbottom Ford Falcon FG + 14.1993
3. Will Davison Holden Commodore VE + 15.4941
4. Garth Tander Holden Commodore VE + 15.9593
5. Todd Kelly Holden Commodore VE + 19.6272
6. Craig Lowndes Ford Falcon FG + 22.2483
7. Jason Richards Holden Commodore VE + 22.9635
8. James Courtney Ford Falcon FG + 22.9733
9. Cameron McConville Holden Commodore VE + 23.0812
10. Lee Holdsworth Holden Commodore VE + 23.8488
11. Michael Caruso Holden Commodore VE + 32.6498
12. Fabian Coulthard Ford Falcon FG + 33.2991
13. Russell Ingall Holden Commodore VE + 36.8205
14. Paul Dumbrell Holden Commodore VE + 45.0479
15. Rick Kelly Holden Commodore VE + 48.9754
16. Jason Bright Ford Falcon BF + 49.9199
17. Steven Johnson Ford Falcon FG + 56.6837
18. David Reynolds Holden Commodore VE +1:00.1487
19. Alex Davison Ford Falcon FG +1:00.6634
20. Shane Van Gisbergen Ford Falcon FG +1:01.1024
21. Steven Richards Ford Falcon FG +1:01.6174
22. Jason Bargwanna Holden Commodore VE +1:03.5236
23. Greg Murphy Holden Commodore VE +1:06.9029
24. Michael Patrizi Ford Falcon BF + 1 lap
25. Dale Wood Holden Commodore VE + 1 lap
26. Tony D'Alberto Holden Commodore VE + 1 lap
27. Tim Slade Holden Commodore VE + 1 lap
28. Marcus Marshall Ford Falcon BF + 1 lap
29. Dean Fiore Holden Commodore VE + 1 lap
Driver Make Laps
Jack Perkins Holden Commodore VE 0