Simon Evans has won the opening race of the weekend at round three of the BNT NZ Touring Cars at Ruapuna this afternoon.
Competitors battled hot conditions at the Ruapuna circuit, with all drivers having to roll the dice and select the right starting tyre pressures for the 12-lap encounter.
Starting from pole position, Evans managed to hold off a hard charging Jason Bargwanna in his Toyota Camry, who finished in second place, 2.4 seconds behind Evans, with Nick Ross finishing in third in his Nissan Altima.
"Jason had his nose in front of me as we headed down the straight after the start, but I managed to sneak down the inside of him into turn one," says Evans.
"The team had set our tyre pressures so that they would come on early in the race, and would enable us to build and hold a gap early on. Jason was there throughout the race, it'll be interesting to see how tomorrow goes."
In class two, championship leader Liam MacDonald of Invercargill continued his winning streak holding off newcomer Justin Ashwell of Christchurch, with Pukekohe's Nick Farrier in third place.
"The race there was really good with Justin. He was on me almost the entire race, so we had to work for that one," says MacDonald.
"The conditions were really hot, and it'll be even hotter tomorrow."
Worrying for MacDonald's competitors for tomorrow's two races is his bank of tyres.
"In that race we ran old tyres from the last round at Taupo, so we'll still have our new ones for tomorrow."
For newcomer and Christchurch local Justin Ashwell, he was elated with a podium finish on his debut in the championship.
"I've only been racing for four years, that was really great racing, I really enjoyed that battle there with Liam," says Ashwell.
"The conditions were actually quite slippery, I probably didn't quite get the tyre pressures right."
Ahead of two more races tomorrow, Ashwell was quick to dispel the myth of any home track advantage.
"I've done a lot of laps here, but to give all of these guys and girls credit, so have they. Looking forward to rest of the races tomorrow."