Red Bull Racing's Jamie Whincup has drawn first blood at the ITM Auckland SuperSprint as he heads off teammate and championship leader Shane van Gisbergen in the first of two Saturday races.
Whincup jumped ahead at the start and easily held of the Kiwi through the 35-lap, 100km sprint race.
The 27-year-old van Gisbergen won't be too disappointed as he calmly held onto second place and minimize the damage. Whincup reduces the Kiwi's championship lead from 148 to 142 points.
Scott McLaughlin's Volvo was third to help him reduce the championship gap to third placed Craig Lowndes.
Whincup beat van Gisbergen off the start-line and forced the Kiwi to concede going into turn one. The six-time series champion skipped clear as the New Zealander had to defend from countryman McLaughlin behind.
The red flag came out on the third lap when Jason Bright's Holden went spearing off the track at the entry to the pits and collected the wall. There was significant damage to the car and pit lane was blocked as a result. The damage was enough to end Bright's day and the team will attempt to repair the car in time for tomorrow.
Race control deemed Super Black Racing's Chris Pither was responsible for the incident and he was forced to serve a drive-through penalty.
"We got off to a good start," Super Black Racing Operations Manager Greg Hahn told herald.co.nz. "Turn nine is a tricky one and most of us know you haven't got many chances to try and overtake around the outside and Brighty was running out of room.
"There is a heavy curb on inside and the car is going to lurch to the right, which it did, and unfortunately they kissed and Brighty went off.
"Just an unfortunate incident.
Hahn was disappointed with the penalty.
"The last couple of rounds the consistency with some of the calls has been challenging for some of the teams but it is what it is," he says.
"We just have to swallow it and move on.
"We have got to punch on - we have three more races this weekend to get it right."
Ford's Chaz Mostert ruined his race when he out-braked himself at the hairpin and dropped to the back of the field as he made his way around the sand trap and rejoined.
Dale Wood was forced out of the race when he was taken out by the Volvo of James Moffat.
The second Saturday race begins at 4.45pm.