After firing his Holden into the wall during qualifying for race two of the V8 Supercars' ITM400 on the streets of Hamilton, defending champion Jamie Whincup drove a consummate race to systematically hunt down race leader Mark Winterbottom.

With three laps to go the TeamVodafone driver was hot on the tail of the Ford Performance Racing driver. On the last lap Whincup was all over the boot of Winterbottom's Ford giving him numerous love taps. Winterbottom, though, was not going to be rattled and held off Whincup to get his first win of the year crossing the line 0.7secs ahead of the Holden driver.

"We had good car speed at the end and it was all about bringing the car home," said Winterbottom. "I really wanted that win and I fought hard for it. It's a hard race with all the kerb strikes and tyre wear.

"Jamie's probably one of the best passers in the category so I had to work hard to defend against him. I wasn't going to let go and it was a great win."


Whincup got his day's work off to a bad start when he smacked into the wall after just one flying lap during the qualifying session. The TeamVodafone crew frantically worked on the car in the three-hour run up to the afternoon's race and Whincup duly took his place on the grid.

"I almost had him [Winterbottom] and I gave it everything I had," said Whincup.

"There were a lot of Holden fans out there who wanted the win. It was a crazy battle and I got very close - so much so I thought I was odds-on to get past him."

Will Davison came home in third and retains his championship lead from Whincup and Winterbottom.

Best of the Kiwis was Fabian Coulthard who picked up two top-10 finishes with his best being fifth in yesterday's race to back up his eighth on Saturday.

"To be honest I'm pretty happy with the weekend. I've got a new engineer for the round and to come out and perform like we did is a credit to everyone who are working as a unit," said Coulthard.

Last year's winner Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen had an average weekend.

"Our car is just not good enough on tracks like this over bumps. On smooth tracks we're good but when we come to a track like this we're just filling the field up. It's still early in the championship and I'm still excited for the season. It's just one tough weekend."

The least said about Greg Murphy's weekend the better. His season hadn't started well with a big shunt, followed by a missed round and a fraught weekend in Hamilton.

At least he salvaged something, with a fighting 17th yesterday.