Puerto Rican driver Felix Serralles left Teretonga yesterday afternoon with the lead in the 2013 Toyota Racing Series.
Serralles used the knowledge he gained racing in the championship last year to post a fourth, second and a win to lead the series after the opening three races.
He has a five-point advantage over another former TRS contestant, Lucas Auer, who took line honours in race one, fifth in race two and a second in the feature Spirit Of The Nation Cup race yesterday afternoon.
Rounding out the top three is Brazilian newcomer Pipo Derani who finished the weekend with a sixth, a win in the reverse top six race two and a fifth.
Race three proved the weekend's excitement when Brit Alex Lynn and Serralles touched when vying for the lead heading into turn one at around 235km/h.
Lynn's car veered sharp left, mounted the tyre barrier and launched straight up into the air like an Apollo space rocket.
The car smashed back to earth and rolled, coming to rest on its wheels where Lynn climbed unsteadily out unhurt moments later.
"It was a bit of a crazy contact but that's racing, I suppose," said Serralles. "In the end I was able to continue and win the race.
"You can't worry about things like that because you'll only drive like crap," he said.
"It was a really good weekend and we got a lot of points. I've had a fantastic car all weekend."
Nick Cassidy, the defending TRS champion and one of only three New Zealanders in the 18-car field, had a roller coaster weekend defined by his poor second qualifying performance that saw him start from 15th for the feature race.
Cassidy heads to round two in Timaru this weekend fourth in the points after a second, a fourth and a battling eighth in race three.
Martin Short won the first NZV8 race after the chasing Australian Jason Bargwanna, who was hot in pursuit, had to pit because of a malfunctioning alternator.
Bargwanna made amends in race two when he stormed into the lead and pulled away from Short and Nick Ross.
Race three was an odd affair with the older NZV8 models getting a head start on the new-generation cars.
However, it wasn't long before Bargwanna was charging through the field like a wounded bull in search of something to hurt.
He was never threatened and took his second race win from Short and Shaun Vamey.By Eric Thompson