Whincup takes out opening Pukekohe sprint
Victory from pole position marked the perfect result for Jamie Whincup and engineer David Cauchi as the pair restarted their partnership at Pukekohe.
Whincup led each of the 21 laps, eventually taking the flag 4.4s clear of second placed Shane van Gisbergen to record his fourth win of the season.
The result comes in the first event with Cauchi back in the race engineer role on Whincup’s car following a mid-season shake-up.
Third place finisher David Reynolds held off a determined Van Gisbergen through the opening corners of the race, but later gifted the position to his rival following an early Safety Car restart.
The full course yellows were called on lap five due to debris on the back straight.
Whincup took a high line as he fought rear locking into the hairpin on the restart lap, before cutting down to a late apex.
That triggered an awkward moment for Reynolds, who nudged the back of the Holden and, with momentum lost, was overtaken by Van Gibsergen on exit.
The Kiwi chased future team-mate Whincup for the duration, but could do nothing to stop the six-time champion driving into the distance.
Reynolds held on for third ahead of Craig Lowndes and Scott Pye, who delivered the bulk of the entertainment in the closing stages.
Under heavy pressure, Pye ran through the Turn 5/6 chicane on the penultimate lap and was subsequently instructed by race control to yield the place.
While he did not do so before the flag, the result was amended immediately post-race to drop the DJR Team Penske Ford to fifth.
Michael Caruso came home sixth while Mark Winterbottom minimised the points loss to Lowndes in seventh.
There was drama on the opening lap, where a concertina at Turn 6 saw Tim Slade nudge Will Davison into a spin.
The Erebus Mercedes was subsequently hit head-on at slow-speed by a luckless Fabian Coulthard.
Damage put Davison out on the spot, while Coulthard soldiered on after a pitstop for repairs to finish 24th.
In a horror race for Brad Jones Racing, Dale Wood was forced to pit to fix rear-end damage, while Jason Bright’s entry stopped on the circuit in the closing stages.
Result: V8 Supercars ITM 500 Auckland Race 28
|1||Red Bull Racing Australia||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore VF||21||24:48.8376|
|2||Team Darrell Lea STIX||Shane Van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore VF||21||24:53.2222|
|3||The Bottle-O Racing Team||David Reynolds||Ford Falcon FG/X||21||24:53.8530|
|4||Red Bull Racing Australia||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore VF||21||24:56.7922|
|5||DJR Team Penske||Scott Pye||Ford Falcon FG/X||21||24:56.3258|
|6||Nissan Motorsport||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||21||24:57.4036|
|7||Pepsi Max Crew||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||21||24:57.9970|
|8||Holden Racing Team||James Courtney||Holden Commodore VF||21||24:58.4908|
|9||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Scott McLaughlin||Volvo S60||21||25:00.4139|
|10||Holden Racing Team||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore VF||21||25:02.0188|
|11||Nissan Motorsport||James Moffat||Nissan Altima||21||25:02.8173|
|12||Nissan Motorsport||Todd Kelly||Nissan Altima||21||25:06.2058|
|13||Walkinshaw Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Holden Commodore VF||21||25:06.7602|
|14||Nissan Motorsport||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||21||25:07.8302|
|15||Supercheap Auto Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore VF||21||25:08.1961|
|16||Repair Management Aust Racing||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore VF||21||25:08.6119|
|17||Pepsi Max Crew||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||21||25:09.7835|
|18||Wilson Security Racing GRM||David Wall||Volvo S60||21||25:11.9908|
|19||Super Black Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Ford Falcon FG/X||21||25:12.2898|
|20||Erebus Motorsport V8||Ashley Walsh||Mercedes E63 AMG||21||25:13.5539|
|21||GB Galvanizing Racing||Dale Wood||Holden Commodore VF||21||25:19.0253|
|22||Team Cooldrive||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore VF||21||25:31.0734|
|23||Freightliner Racing||Fabian Coulthard||Holden Commodore VF||20||25:20.5627|
|DNF||Team BOC||Jason Bright||Holden Commodore VF||19||22:51.8019|
|DNF||Erebus Motorsport V8||Will Davison||Mercedes E63 AMG|