V8 Supercars' driver Jason Bright got his defence of the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy off to a storybook start by taking pole for race one of the weekend yesterday. And if that wasn't good enough, the team BOC driver took advantage of a power steering failure in Jamie Whincup's car to take the lead on lap 12, which he held to the chequered flag.
"This is the first time I've been at one these [press conference] this year," said a delighted Bright. "We've had a tough year so far, and to come back here and get a win again after last year is a good start to the weekend.
"It was pretty wild ride in qualifying and the cars was very lively especially over the bumps, but that's what makes Puke what it is.
"We're remembering a lot of people both JR [Jason Richards] and all our Anzacs, so it really is a special day to win."
Best of the Kiwi drivers was Shane van Gisbergen who followed Bright home with series point's leader Craig Lowndes, James Courtney and Will Davison rounding out the top five.
"I couldn't quite match Brighty during the race, his car just seemed too good," said van Gisbergen. "It was a pretty tough day with limited track time and we only have one car. The race was good but Jason's car was just better over the bumps.
"The car is fast enough and I just need to qualify well and lead from the front. I'm sure we can do it today and tomorrow, we'll just see."
Series leader Lowndes finished third, but with teammate Whincup rolling in 24th after fixing the power steering, and some of the other title contenders, especially Mark Winterbottom who's in second, not having the best of races, extended his lead.
"I had a bit of a moment coming up over the crest of the hill and dropped a wheel into the grass and lost momentum, letting Shane through to second," said Lowndes. "Ours was only good enough for third today and bringing it home meant grabbing some good points and staying in front of James [Courtney] for the race.
"We're surviving, scoring points and beating our championship competition at the moment. But we need to win races and be up the front. The Red Bull guys will look at the car and see what we can bring for today."
Winterbottom had been running seventh towards the end of the race before dropping to 13th after a spin at the hairpin and remains in second in the championship. Fabian Coulthard qualified ninth and moved to seventh at race end to remain in third on points.
The third Kiwi in the pack, Scott McLaughlin, reckons his poor qualifying back in seventh hindered his race and is determined to improve in today's opening race. He didn't help his chances of a good finish by running wide and then struggling to get past Garth Tander for a number of laps, to cross the line eighth and drop to 12th in the championship.
Qualifying today starts at 11.30am and 11.50am with race starts at 2.05pm and 4.05pm.