Pukekohe produces thrilling return to action

By Eric Thompson

The grand old lady of New Zealand motor racing circuits, Pukekohe Raceway, put on one hell of a display in welcoming back the V8 Supercars circus after five years away. To add to the excitement it was young Kiwi racer Scott McLaughlin who claimed the first win on the re-vamped track.

The 19-year-old has been in scintillating form in his rookie year in the main game and brought his Gary Rogers Motorsport Holden home in front of Jason Bright and Craig Lowndes.

"It was pretty amazing especially over the last couple of laps," said a very happy McLaughlin.

"I found it quite hard to concentrate and it was awesome to see all the fans up and down the track and I was fist-pumping in the car."

Within a few hours McLaughlin was to experience the other end of the motorsport spectrum of emotions when he trailed the field home in 24th place.

The Kiwi was comfortably inside the top 10 when a group of cars including James Courtney, Garth Tander and Shane van Gisbergen fired off all over the track causing McLaughlin to take evasive action dropping him down the field.

"I didn't know what the cars in front were going to do and I tried to avoid everyone. It's motor racing and these things happen and I've just got to keep on doing what I'm doing.
"We've won once already so we should be able to do it again. A good qualifying run should set us up for a good race," said McLaughlin.

Red Bull Racing Australia's, and defending champion, Jamie Whincup survived a last minute, desperate lung from Mark Winterbottom into turn five on the last lap to take his first win of the season from Will Davison and Tander.

"First up I'd like to congratulate Scotty on getting his first race [championship points] win," said Whincup.

"It was all going on in the first race from the start with Fabs [Fabian Coulthard] doing a jump start and having to follow him around.

"The car gets hot around Pukekohe and I wanted to get past him as soon as I could. After that it was all right until Mark [Winterbottom] had a silly lung up the inside.

"Hopefully no one will penalise him and they leave it up to us to sort it out on the track," said Whincup.

With those words still ringing around the track, Sunday's two races should be fast, furious and action packed.

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