Mark Winterbottom bounced back from a disappointing first V8 Supercars race at Hidden Valley to claim his first victory for more than a year in the second.
The Ford Performance Racing driver's last success came at Phillip Island in May last year, but he drove a faultless race to head home polesitter James Courtney and a charging Craig Lowndes.
Courtney made a great start to lead from Winterbottom, who had to fend off FPR teammate Will Davison after a sluggish getaway. Unlike the first encounter, the rest of the field navigated the first lap without incident.
Having held second, Winterbottom began to harry Courtney's Holden for the lead, moving to the head of the pack on lap six. As he worked on building his advantage, Davison passed Courtney for second on lap 10.
The Triple 8 Holdens had quiet starts to the race, race one winner Jamie Whincup holding station from fifth on the grid with Lowndes struggling to make headway from 10th. They were the first of the front-runners to make their stops, and the strategy worked perfectly for Lowndes.
First, he passed the late-stopping trio of Fabian Coulthard, Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander while they were still in the pits. They would be left to rue their own strategy call as they came home seventh, eighth and ninth. He then set about passing David Reynolds for sixth.
By the time Lowndes joined the podium battle, Winterbottom had established a four-second lead, but having passed his team-mate for fourth, the lead Red Bull-backed Holden would not be denied a rostrum finish.
Davison was unable to hold on in the closing stages, visibly struggling with his tyres, dropping from second to fourth in a matter of seconds as first Courtney passed into Turn 1 and then Lowndes outbraked him into Turn 5. Despite his struggles, he held off Whincup for fourth.
Lowndes was all over Courtney on the final tour but could not force his way past, the pair surviving a brief moment where Lowndes outbraked himself and nudged the back of Courtney's car.
Further down the order, different tire strategies had briefly allowed Dean Fiore and Scott McLaughlin to star. Both drivers temporarily ran at the front of the field as Fiore – from 17th – started on softs and McLaughlin was the first to switch. The pair eventually tumbled down the order as the race progressed; Fiore finishing 19th and McLaughlin 27th.
Results - 35 laps
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Mark Winterbottom FPR Ford 42m28.7456s
2. James Courtney HRT Holden + 6.0119s
3. Craig Lowndes Triple 8 Holden + 6.2421s
4. Will Davison FPR Ford + 7.5922s
5. Jamie Whincup Triple 8 Holden + 7.9243s
6. Jonathon Webb Tekno Holden + 9.9060s
7. Fabian Coulthard Brad Jones Holden + 15.2462s
8. Shane van Gisbergen Tekno Holden + 15.8637s
9. Garth Tander HRT Holden + 21.2474s
10. David Reynolds Rod Nash/FPR Ford + 25.5241s
11. Tim Slade Rosenberg/Erebus Mercedes + 26.1153s
12. Todd Kelly Nissan + 26.6694s
13. Jason Bright Brad Jones Holden + 28.5117s
14. David Wall Britek/BJR Holden + 29.4134s
15. Alexandre Premat GRM Holden + 31.0533s
16. Lee Holdsworth Erebus Mercedes + 31.2452s
17. Chaz Mostert Dick Johnson Ford + 34.9577s
18. Tony D'Alberto D'Alberto Holden + 38.1337s
19. Dean Fiore Dumbrell Holden + 38.1825s
20. Alex Davison Schwerkolt/FPR Ford + 39.5031s
21. Michael Caruso Nissan + 44.2616s
22. Maro Engel Erebus Mercedes + 44.9906s
23. James Moffat Nissan + 45.1544s
24. Tim Blanchard Dick Johnson Ford + 49.9953s
25. Rick Kelly Nissan + 50.2008s
26. Russell Ingall Walkinshaw/HRT Holden + 51.6444s
27. Scott McLaughlin GRM Holden + 55.2760s
28. Scott Pye Dumbrell Holden + 1 lap