Jamie Whincup has taken victory in Race 24 at the ITM Auckland SuperSprint after a titanic duel with Scott McLaughlin, stretching his championship lead to 30-points.
The Red Bull Holden Racing driver lead away at the start from pole position, while Chaz Mostert challenged McLaughlin at Turn 1, but was unsuccessful in making the pass with the former holding onto second.
Mostert then got caught up in an incident at Turn 8 on the opening lap when all three Prodrive Racing cars tripped over each other.
Mark Winterbottom slipped up the inside of Mostert, while Cameron Waters was alongside both of them on the inside, with the trio making contact and causing a mini pile up on the exit of the corner.
This caught out the likes of James Courtney and Lee Holdsworth, who both speared into a stationary Winterbottom, as well as numerous other cars who attempted to take avoiding action of Mostert who ended up facing the wrong way.
A Safety Car was prevented with all cars leaving the scene of the crime, as both Courtney and Holdsworth retired from the race because of the extensive damage on their respective Commodore’s.
Out front though, everything was running smoothly as McLaughlin dived into the pits for his first stop on Lap 10, before Red Bull covered them off, bringing Whincup in on the next lap, rejoining just over a second ahead of the #17.
On the other side of the garage, van Gisbergen’s championship hopes took a blow when he ran into the back of Tim Slade while entering the pit lane, with substantial damage done to the front of van Gisbergen’s car.
The Kiwi eventually got back out on track, although 14 laps behind and in 24th place.
Whincup maintained a 1.5s gap to McLaughlin throughout the second stint, before coming in again for his second and final stop on Lap 35.
Shell V-Power Racing brought McLaughlin in the next lap, the Kiwi rejoining just behind Whincup as he swooped in front through Turn 1, holding the top spot by the narrowest of margins.
Whincup gradually stretched what was a 0.5s gap as McLaughlin slotted in behind after the final pit stops, to 5.9s by the chequered flag to claim the race win and the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy.
McLaughlin came home in second after backing off on the last lap to save fuel, while Cameron Waters survived the lap one shunt to finish on the podium in third.
Craig Lowndes showed strong pace throughout the 70 lap hit out, working his way up to fourth after starting eleventh, just ahead of fifth placed Fabian Coulthard.
Garth Tander came across the line in sixth, while Mostert phenomenally recovered to seventh ahead of Jason Bright, James Moffat and Scott Pye who rounded out the top ten.
Michael Caruso was the first of the Nissan’s in eleventh, with Slade finishing 15th, despite sustaining heavy damage to the rear of his Brad Jones Racing Commodore when van Gisbergen pilled into the back of him.
Winterbottom salvaged 19th, with van Gisbergen himself not making any gains after he rejoined 14 laps down in 24th.
Whincup now holds a 30 point lead heading to Newcastle for the final round on November 24-26.