Craig Lowndes delivered a V8 Supercars win for the ages, surging through the field in Perth last night to lead a Triple Eight one-two-three.
Shane Van Gisbergen took the lead on lap two and looked in control after seeing off a concerted challenge from Chaz Mostert. But Lowndes' strategic masterclass delivered him a record 16th win at Barbagallo Raceway.
With just 21 laps to go, Lowndes pitted from fourth place, re-entering in 21st position in the 120km race. With fresh tyres, he ripped through the field, the 41-year-old snatching the lead with just three laps left.
After completing the drive, he ran from his car to congratulate the garage team who masterminded his victory. Lowndes said he was questioning the strategy of team engineer Ludo Lacroix when he realised he was 18 seconds behind.
"I thought it was a bit strange. I didn't question him," he said.
"He asked me to push and the car responded. It was a great strategy from the boys and it could have gone either way."
Van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup, who had been struggling with electrical problems this weekend, survived a final-lap burst of heavy rain to hang on to their podium finishes, a historic first one-two-three for Triple Eight since their expansion to three cars.
Mostert and Van Gisbergen shared an exciting mid-race battle, with Mostert poking his nose in front at one point and even shunting the Holden from behind. But Mostert fell away, finishing 13th, one place behind pole-sitter Cam Waters.
"That was cool. Well done to the team. One-two-three is pretty awesome so I am pretty stoked," Van Gisbergen said.
The Kiwi had prospered from a one-sided qualifying when only half the field completed a lap on slick tyres in the rain before a red flag stopped the session. With the teams reverting to wet tyres, the rest of the field had no chance to achieve a time to match those on the first-lap slicks.
Starting from fourth, Van Gisbergen showed his class in the slippery conditions to work his way to the lead but this evaporated like the rain after his team waited one lap too many to dash in for slick tyres in the improving conditions, and that allowed Lowndes to pounce.
Reigning champion Mark Winterbottom lost ground in the standings, falling into the sand trap and then being turned around by Dale Wood to finish 22nd.
Lowndes became the seventh different winner in eight races in a hyper-competitive series to date and is second in the championship, 15 points behind leader Whincup.
Kiwi Scott McLaughlin dropped one place in the standings to third after finishing 11th. He came into the weekend in good form after winning at in Phillip Island and being fastest in practice but suffered because of the weather in qualifying and started from 15th on the grid.
Super Black Racing claimed the first top-10 finish for the Kiwi team when Chris Pither drove a controlled race for eighth.
Fabian Coulthard's difficult season continued with a 17th, after he given a drive-through penalty for an unsafe release, and Andre Heimgartner was 21st.
Today will see the feature 200km race at Barbagallo Raceway.