Mark Winterbottom now holds two of the most prized trophies in V8 Supercars and just as importantly leaves the ITM 500 Auckland with no plans to stop his Championship assault.
Winterbottom is the first person to hold the Jason Richards Memorial and the Peter Brock Trophy he won at Bathurst last year with a slender points win over Kiwi hero Scott McLaughlin. Winterbottom's young team-mate Chaz Mostert was third in the longer 200km race.
The Pepsi Max Crew FPR driver now has a 107 Championship point lead over Red Bull Racing Australia's Craig Lowndes who is 10 points ahead of Lockwood Racing's Fabian Coulthard. Reigning Champion Jamie Whincup is 166 points back in sixth.
Lowndes finished in twentieth today with Whincup in tenth.
As he said after his win on Saturday, Winterbottom intends to keep extending his lead at the next event in Perth which is followed by the SKYCITY Triple Crown in Darwin and the Townsville 500.
"I wanted to lead the Championship leaving here on Sunday. I didn't want to lead on Friday and someone takes it back off you on Sunday. We now have two weeks to enjoy it.
"Triple Eight are having a rough run which is surprising because (Shane) Van Gisbergen in the same car is going quite well. That's interesting.
"I am rapt they had a bad weekend and normally we don't capitalise on it when they do. But they've had two and we have out-scored everyone both times. We are getting it right at the right time.
"Hopefully we can maintain it. It is good that Chaz and Dave are doing well - we have more cars up there doing well. The more we have up there the more we take points off everyone else."
In a race which did not feature a single safety car period Winterbottom and McLaughlin duelled out in front all day with only the final stop of the day determining the outcome. It snared Winterbottom the treasured Trophy for the best performed over the Anzac weekend.
"That's amazing. The Jason Richards Trophy in particular is very special. He was an amazing guy. To win it is very special. I am holding this one and the workshop have got the Peter Brock Trophy for Bathurst. It is pretty cool. I was rapt to win this and very honoured to win it," Winterbottom said.
"To race on Anzac Day was really special. To see the crowd - Friday seemed like a Sunday. That was awesome and to race three days was great. If you were a fan you would love it. It was an amazing weekend."
Winterbottom beat McLaughlin out of the pits at the last stop, having entered behind the young Kiwi. It appeared a case that Winterbottom took slightly less fuel with his team doing a great job to get him to the front.
Not only did they exchange the places it also swapped the lead in the Jason Richards Trophy hunt, putting Winterbottom narrowly in front.
McLaughlin was 'shattered' to miss the Jason Richard's Trophy by a place. "Yeah, that's what happens," he said.
"It was a pretty good battle up until then but actually, I thought we might have edged in front of Frosty because we probably took on a little more fuel at the first stop but yeah, he got me.
"Our car was set up for a first stint, we didn't really compensate for the track ripping up so you know, come back here next year, we'll have a bit of thinking to do, but we've got a direction."
Heartache struck for Supercheap Auto Racing's Tim Slade when he lost clutch control on the starting grid, a devastating blow for the Holden driver who had just celebrated scoring a front-row start next to McLaughlin.
The initial start was aborted when Slade began waving his hands just as the starter's signal was about to come on. The field did a second formation lap with Slade heading from the front row to pit lane, a terrible blow for the popular Gold Coaster.
Yesterday's winner Shane van Gisbergen, Nissan's Michael Caruso, Jason Bright, Erebus' Will Davison, Rick Kelly, Fabian Coulthard and Whincup completed the top 10.
Others to note include Garth Tander 12, James Courtney 14, David Reynolds 17 after a great start and setback with a punctured tyre, and Lowndes 20th - another tough day for the Red Bull Racer.
The V8 Supercars will next hit the track at the Perth 400, from May 16-18 at Barbagallo Raceway.
Mark Winterbottom is the new V8 Supercar Championship leader after clocking just the third Ford win in the history of the ITM 500 Auckland, and backing it up with second in the final race of the day.
In front of a massive New Zealand crowd Winterbottom joined only Marcos Ambrose (2004) and Will Davison (2013) as the only Blue Oval V8 Supercar winners in New Zealand, then overtook Craig Lowndes (tenth and sixteenth) by just two points.
Winterbottom pushed the Pepsi Max FPR Crew Falcon though a tough first day where he still managed a solid result and then capitalised on Lowndes' rough patch.
While Winterbottom won the first race the locals were absolutely enthralled by the second of the day when Kiwi hero Scott McLaughlin challenged and beat Jamie Whincup in an amazing opening lap, then another NZ young gun, Shane van Gisbergen, did the same.
The two Kiwis went head-to-head in an epic battle but all the while Winterbottom ranged behind them, getting past McLaughlin and then almost hauling in Van Gisbergen in the closing laps.
Van Gisbergen leads the points in the Jason Richards Trophy (133) from Winterbottom (118) and James Courtney (109). McLaughlin is still in the race on 108 points so far.
Last year's Jason Richards Trophy winner Jason Bright had a nightmare after winning the opening race Friday. He was penalised in his TEAM BOC Holden for contact with Tim Slade's Supercheap Auto Racing Commodore in the opening race and then crashed on lap one in the second.
Sadly for Bright it cruelled any chance of defending the Trophy so cherished by the team.
Winterbottom said leading the Championship at this early part of the year was a positive, refuting often used suggestions that it is not until after the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 is there are true picture.
"I am rapt to get the Championship lead, though everyone always says 'uh, I don't want to lead now' but you want to lead all the way," he said.
"Everyone bullshits about their position and 'I don't want to lead'. So I am rapt to lead, and they've got to chase. We need to keep this momentum going but you can't just get to the lead and then go 'okay we've done it now'. I want to lead from here on and that's the plan."
Winterbottom was angry at himself after driving errors yesterday, but capitalised in the second race of the weekend as he began to assert his authority.
Banking 50 points, he minimised the gap to Lowndes to just 18 points before overtaking him with the subsequent second.
"It is an awesome reward after yesterday," Winterbottom said post-race.
"I am so happy to pay the team back after I forced them to fix the car and didn't get the result we should've.
"It is good to bounce back and get a win. It was a bit lonely out the front but that's the way I always want it. I had a room with a view."
ARMOR ALL pole man Courtney continued his run on the podium in the first race, while Winterbottom's teammate Chaz Mostert made the top three for the first time with his new crew.
"I don't think I've ever been so excited to be in three!" Mostert said. "It has been a tough start to the year and to be up here with Frosty is fantastic... finally got a podium."
In the first race Whincup held off the Kiwis for fourth, with Van Gisbergen and McLaughlin behind, and Nick Percat, David Reynolds, Garth Tander and Fabian Coulthard completing the top 10.
In race two Garth Tander, David Reynolds, Nick Percat, James Moffat, Scott Pye and Lowndes followed Whincup home.
Jason Bright came to New Zealand with only one goal in mind - to defend the Jason Richards Trophy.
Having won the very first Jason Richards Trophy in honour of the late Kiwi driver this time last year, Bright started the defence in the first of four races at the ITM 500 this Anzac weekend.
He benefitted from race leader Jamie Whincup surrendering his lead mid-way through the safety-car reduced 33-lap Friday race to come home relatively comfortably from young Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen and Championship leader Craig Lowndes.
Bright was best mates and team-mate of Richards at the Brad Jones Racing Team before the affable Kiwi was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2010. Richards ultimately lost a brave battle, but never his infectious, trademark smile, a year later.
It left the very close knit BJR team, a team that his father Dave also worked with for many years, shattered. The Jason Richards Trophy was introduced for the New Zealand event when it moved to Pukekohe last year, Richards' favourite New Zealand track.
Bright won the Trophy on accumulated points last year and in emotional scenes following when he accepted the Trophy from the late Richards' wife Charlotte.
While this is the perfect start Bright is determined not to get ahead of himself.
"It was a special day for two reasons," Bright said.
"You know, the ANZAC day and remembering JR this weekend, and last year was very special. When we knew that the trophy was going to be named after him, we wanted to come here and win it.
"Everyone in the team wanted to win it. We wanted to make sure one of our cars brought it home and we were fortunate enough to do it.
"Coming here, this year, probably a little bit of pressure off because the first one is so special but we still want it to come back to Albury, that's for sure."
Whincup cleared out from the start, pushing his Holden Commodore through the opening laps while the field battled well behind. He left ARMOR ALL Pole sitter Bright in his wake with Van Gisbergen and Lowndes in their own mini-dual.
Local hero Scott McLaughlin had a poor start and was swamped early, losing multiple spots. Van Gisbergen made the most of a Lowndes' error at the final turn onto the straight, getting underneath the Championship leader who went wide onto the grass.
Having appeared comfortably in control Whincup appeared to have some sort of steering issue on lap 12, leaving the track and shuffling back through the field at rapid pace. He came into the pits straight away and returned eight laps later.
That left Bright in the lead to manage a gap from Van Gisbergen who had built a gap to Lowndes who then found James Courtney hot on his tail.
"Jamie looked like he was really struggling, he sort of gapped me on the first lap and we were back on him straight away," Bright said.
"It looked like he was really struggling with the rear which I felt like, you know, if we just gave it time, he was going to be struggling more and more so, and then when we was sort of out of the way I just wanted to make sure I maintain the gap to Shane."
Disaster struck for a speedy Mark Winterbottom in qualifying when he hit the grass on the final turn, just avoiding the outside fence. When he re-joined he spun out of control on the front straight after crashing through two trackside signs.
Somehow Winterbottom escaped a major accident but not damage to the car. He was forced into the pits with what appeared to be a broken tail-shaft but his team was able to get him back out. But it left him down the order in qualifying tenth.
Plenty of battles emerged throughout the field - the Kiwi versus Aussie fire alive as Scott McLaughlin and Garth Tander fought in the top 10.
Yellow flags interrupted the race as David Wall's Falcon ploughed into the concrete at turn 10 after contact with fellow Ford driver Chaz Mostert. The incident will be investigated post-race.
But it was Bright who banked the 75 points, which has pushed him into 10th in the Championship.
Courtney, Will Davison, Nick Percat, Fabian Coulthard, McLaughlin, Tander and James Moffat completed the top 10.
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