Jamie Whincup wins race one in Darwin
Holden's Jamie Whincup has taken a stranglehold on another V8 Supercars championship with a comfortable win in the opening race of this weekend's round in Darwin on Saturday.
The four-time series champion was the beneficiary of the innovative 60/60 Super Sprint format and a clash between Ford teammates David Reynolds and Mark Winterbottom with five laps remaining.
Whincup beat home Shane van Gisbergen by 0.3431 sec while another Holden driver, James Courtney, was third in a dramatic battle on the Hidden Valley circuit.
Whincup trailed pole-sitter Reynolds halfway through the 120km race, but the double file rolling restart after a 15-minute break was, predictably, chaotic.
But Whincup muscled Reynolds into the lead and moments later the safety car was deployed for six laps to clean up debris caused by a number of clashes on a messy turn six.
Craig Lowndes hit Garth Tander, who shoved into Will Davison causing a number of drivers to pit.
And just when Ford where poised to have two drivers join Whincup on the podium, Winterbottom tapped Reynolds, who spun off the track and came home in 14th.
Whincup's win was his seventh for the season and his sixth of the last eight races after a good run in Texas and Perth.
And his latest triumph translated into a 224-point lead over Red Bull Racing teammate Craig Lowndes in the series standings.
Jonathon Webb finished fourth while it was a much-improved outing from the two new teams of 2013.
Nissan's Rick Kelly came in fifth and Mercedes driver Tim Slade was sixth.
Chaz Mostert, Jason Bright, Tony d'Alberto and Michael Caruso rounded out the top 10.
After being quickest in practice, Winterbottom finished 22nd.