Scott McLaughlin became the youngest race winner in V8 Supercars history as he took his maiden win in a points race at Pukekohe on Saturday morning.
The 19-year-old from New Zealand had already taken victory in one of the non-championship events on the Australian Grand Prix support bill in Melbourne last month.
In the first of this weekend’s four races in his homeland, McLaughlin moved forward from his fifth place on the grid as the experienced frontrunners all ran into trouble.
Fabian Coulthard, winner of five of the last seven races including the Melbourne events, lost his front row start when his top-10 shootout times were disallowed for not respecting track limits.
Polesitter and reigning champion Jamie Whincup then locked up and ran off the track with a badly flat-spotted tyre on the opening lap of the race.
That put the quick-starting McLaughlin second behind Ford Performance Racing’s Mark Winterbottom, until the Falcon driver also had to pit with a puncture.
McLaughlin then led Garry Rogers Holden team-mate Alexandre Premat in a one-two, but the Frenchman faced a penalty for a false start and ultimately retired.
Coulthard’s Brad Jones Holden partner Jason Bright – who won at Symmons Plains a week ago – kept McLaughlin under pressure to the finish, as the rookie won by just 0.8 seconds.
Craig Lowndes recovered from a mistake on his pole shootout lap to salvage third for Triple 8, right behind Bright.
Shane van Gisbergen and Coulthard chased them home, with Garth Tander ending up sixth after a late mistake while fighting with Lowndes.
Results - 35 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Scott McLaughlin GRM Holden 39m54.9225s 2. Jason Bright Brad Jones Holden + 0.8209s 3. Craig Lowndes Triple 8 Holden + 1.3120s 4. Shane van Gisbergen Tekno Holden + 2.4629s 5. Fabian Coulthard Brad Jones Holden + 3.2887s 6. Garth Tander HRT Holden + 4.7988s 7. Will Davison FPR Ford + 5.0299s 8. David Reynolds Rod Nash/FPR Ford + 6.4085s 9. James Courtney HRT Holden + 7.7145s 10. Jonathon Webb Tekno Holden + 11.2199s 11. Alex Davison Schwerkolt/FPR Ford + 11.5876s 12. Rick Kelly Nissan + 12.6343s 13. Michael Caruso Nissan + 13.1648s 14. Russell Ingall Walkinshaw/HRT Holden + 13.7618s 15. Tim Blanchard DJR Ford + 15.7367s 16. Tony D'Alberto D'Alberto Holden + 16.0910s 17. Todd Kelly Nissan + 16.7292s 18. Lee Holdsworth Erebus Mercedes + 17.4682s 19. Mark Winterbottom FPR Ford + 17.8740s 20. Dean Fiore Dumbrell Holden + 20.2838s 21. David Wall Britek/BJR Holden + 20.7693s 22. James Moffat Nissan + 21.7277s 23. Jonny Reid DJR Ford + 23.1456s 24. Maro Engel Erebus Mercedes + 23.8135s 25. Tim Slade Rosenberg/Erebus Mercedes + 24.2392s 26. Jamie Whincup Triple 8 Holden + 1 lap Retirements: Alexandre Premat GRM Holden 19 laps