Bragging rights in the Anzac weekend battle of the V8 Supercars at the ITM 500 in Pukekohe went to the Aussies, with Ford Performance Racing driver Mark Winterbottom taking the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy back across the Tasman.
Kiwi Volvo pilot Scott McLaughlin had to settle for second in the feature race and the weekend's points. Winterbottom played a clever game in the 200km feature race yesterday, stalking the leaders - picking off teammate David Reynolds early on before jumping Shane van Gisbergen in pits to grab second.
He then shadowed race leader Scott McLaughlin in the middle stages before both drivers pitted, with Winterbottom emerging from pit lane in the lead, and was never headed during the closing stanzas of the race to take his third win of the season.
Winterbottom said he was honoured to win the Jason Richards Trophy: "he was an amazing guy".
"To race on Anzac weekend was incredible and the racing was fantastic," he said.
"Pukekohe is an awesome track and the bumps make the character of the joint.
"I hope they never do too much to change the track as it makes the place a bit hairy."
Winterbottom arrived in New Zealand 48 points behind series leader Craig Lowndes and packed his bags for the flight back to Australia last night with a handy 107-point lead.
"Triple Eight [Lowndes and Jamie Whincup] are having a tough time at the moment, which is surprising, but we're rapt because we don't normally capitalise on the chance when they're not having a good day."
McLaughlin was the meat in an FPR sandwich yesterday, following Winterbottom home with Chaz Mostert finishing third.
The Kiwi started on pole and led until the first round of pitstops where he was jumped by Winterbottom and then had to follow the FPR driver home.
The Kiwi's two podium finishes move him into seventh in the series.
"It was a pretty good battle [with Winterbottom] up until the pit stop but he got me," McLaughlin said.
"I never really had enough to get back on to him but we're pretty close to getting our first win."
Van Gisbergen also notched up a couple of podium finishes - first and second - but was pinged 25 points in the second race of the weekend. He's settled into fifth on the series ladder just ahead of defending champion Jamie Whincup.
Third Kiwi in the field Fabian Coulthard had a weekend to forget but hangs on in third on the ladder.
Great weather saw a bumper crowd of 128,000 V8 fans make the trip to Pukekohe for three days of racing.
The next round of the V8 Supercars is in Perth on May 16-18.