Kiwi sensation Scott McLaughlin has become the youngest driver to win a V8 Supercars race with a thrilling victory in the first race at the ITM 400 at Pukekohe today.
The 19-year-old started the 35-lap race fourth on the grid but took the lead - which was never relinquished - after Jamie Whincup and then Mark Winterbottam suffered mishaps which sent them into the pits early in the race.
"I dreamt about this," said a jubilant McLaughlin after the race. He was quick to thank the vocal home crowd, though he joked that "it was hard to concentrate out there when all of you were clapping."
The win takes McLaughin into fourth on the overall V8 Supercars Driver's championship, after a solid start to the year where he had not finished outside the top ten in all five official races.
Jason Bright made some ground in the final stages but it wasn't enough to close the gap on the young New Zealander.
Craig Lowndes was happy to finish third, after a mistake in the Top 10 shootout earlier in the day while Shane van Gisbergen finished fourth. The top ten was rounded out by Fabian Coulthard , Garth Tander, Will Davison, David Reynolds, James Courtney and Jonathon Webb. The other Kiwi in the field, Jonny Reid, finished 23rd.
Whincup, who started on pole, had a nightmare race, suffering a puncture at the first corner and later incurring a penalty for speeding in the pit lane. Winterbottam took the lead after Whincup's exit but also had tyre problems on the 12th lap, giving McLaughin his opportunity.
Christchurch born McLaughin won the Dunlop Series last year (which is the development category for V8 Supercars ) and only made his Supercars debut at Sandown last year. He then finished a creditable sixth at Bathurst (alongside Johnathan Webb) and was called up for the final race of 2012 at Sydney.
McLaughin has always impressed from a young age. He finished fourth in the Dunlop Series in 2011 before his truimph last year, where wins at Barbagallo and Townsville sealed the title.
The second 100km race is at 3.55pm.