Shane van Gisbergen mastered the strategy and tricky conditions at Pukekohe Park Raceway to win the first race of the Auckland SuperSprint and come close to erasing Scott McLaughlin's championship lead, but it didn't come without drama.
The two Kiwis produced a thrilling fight over 70 laps on Saturday with the Red Bull Holden Racing driver coming out on top. McLaughlin fought hard and took home second place to hold onto his narrow title advantage.
Van Gisbergen opted to stay out longer in his middle stint while McLaughlin gained the benefit of fresh tyres. He had a four second advantage by the time Van Gisbergen finally exited pit lane.
Van Gisbergen then had the new tyre advantage and reeled in the Shell V-Power Ford in closing laps and forced his way by McLaughlin at the hairpin. The pair went door-to-door with the Holden eventually completing the move.
He was judged to have infringed when he bumped McLaughlin at the start of the exchange and was hit with a five-second penalty.
That seemed to urge the 29-year-old on and he managed to open up a gap just big enough to take the race win.
"I think either way that battle went it would have been awesome. It was a great race," Van Gisbergen said.
"It was hard. One of the best races I have ever had. It was one of the coolest moments in racing I have ever had.
"It was a little bump – he did get back on the brakes. It was a good bit of racing. I had already backed off and then they said you have a five second penalty and I had to do qualifying laps."
But the Red Bull Holden Racing driver faced a nervous wait, with a post-race investigation looking into him spinning his wheels as his car was dropped from the jacks at his final stop. The rules state that the wheels cannot rotate while the car is in the air and replays showed the tyres spinning as it was dropped back to the ground.
"I didn't feel the wheels spin. I didn't even know about it until after the race," Van Gisbergen said.
The investigation deemed the rear wheels did not complete a full rotation before the car hit the ground, but DJR Team Penske has lodged a protest, meaning the results remain provisional.
If no penalty is issued McLaughlin's advantage will be two points heading into another 70-lap race on Sunday. A penalty will see that advantage extend significantly – a normal punishment is a drive-through penalty.
For the second year in a row Kiwi Fabian Coulthard had his weekend ruined during the Saturday race as he was punted into the wall in an incident that involved Lee Holdsworth and Richie Stanaway as well.
Holdsworth and Coulthard were side by side coming onto over the mountain with Stanaway tucked in behind. It appeared that Holdsworth yielded the spot to Coulthard but in doing so got drilled from behind by Stanaway, sending the Australian into Coulthard and causing the carnage.
Stanaway was handed a drive through for his role in the incident and faces a post-race investigation as well.
"I don't know why I got a penalty for it. It ruined my race," an angry Stanaway said.
"There is just no consistency with the stewards – it feels like a bit of a joke at the moment."