Will Davison collects the spoils at the ITM400 Hamilton Photo credit: Ford Performance Racing

Will Davison collects the spoils at the ITM400 Hamilton Photo credit: Ford Performance Racing

Will Davison has stretched his lead in the V8 Supercars Championship with victory in the opening leg of the ITM400 Hamilton in New Zealand.

The Trading Post FPR Falcon driver fought his way from sixth on the grid, beating home defending champion Jamie Whincup and pole-sitter Garth Tander, to take his ninth career win and his first on the streets of Hamilton.

In a hectic first lap, Davison jumped from sixth on the grid to second as the top three starters Tander, Shane van Gisbergen and David Reynolds scrapped it out over the first few turns.

SP Tools Racing's Van Gisbergen took the lead into the first corner but going in too deep, the New Zealander locked-up, copping a bump from Reynolds. Tander then snatched back the lead as Reynolds understeered wide at Turn 2.

Tander headed the field through the first round of pitstops, but the Holden Racing Team pilot was unable to fend off Davison, losing out on lap 27, with the FPR man forging ahead to a four-second lead. That gap soon evaporated when the safety car was called on lap 38 after Fujitsu Racing GRM driver Alexandre Premat crashed into the wall at Turn 7.

Tander piled on the pressure at the restart, but he was reeled in by the charging Whincup making up lost ground after stalling at his first pitstop, and the TeamVodafone driver took second place from Tander inside the final four laps.

“It certainly was tough,” said Davison.

“The first lap was awesome for me. Obviously starting sixth wasn't ideal but I knew we were quicker than that. Getting through the traffic was going to be the tricky thing, but popping out second from sixth was obviously fantastic.

“When we switched to the softs my car came on quite well and I played it smart and looked after the car. I had a good run on Garth (Tander) on the straight and got him into turn 1. I then managed fuel for a little while and kept an eye on the mirror.

“It is great for the team to get another win. A tough day for Frosty and Dave, but I'm sure they'll come back strongly tomorrow.”

Craig Lowndes (TeamVodafone) finished fourth ahead of Rick Kelly (Jack Daniels Racing) who had started from 14th on the grid. Steve Owen (V.I.P Petfoods) took sixth to bank Dick Johnson Racing’s highest finish this year, while James Courtney (Toll Holden Racing) and Michael Caruso (Fujitsu Racing GRM) both made ten places to take seventh and eighth respectively. Fabian Coulthard (Lockwood Racing) and Russell Ingall (Supercheap Auto Racing) rounded out the top-ten.

Reynolds looked set for a career-best fourth but with just seven laps to run, contact with the Turn 4 tyre bundle broke The Bottle-O Racing Falcon's right-front suspension, ending his race. It was also a bad day for team-mate Mark Winterbottom, the Orrcon Steel FPR driver finishing 23rd after losing two laps to fix a bent steering arm.

Local hero van Gisbergen's hopes for the day were dashed after his first lap collisions with Reynolds and then Whincup damaged his steering. He then had to pit to change a front spoiler and collected a pit lane penalty for too many kerb hops, finishing in 22nd.

The second 200-kilometre race takes place tomorrow.

Race 5 result:

1 Will Davison Trading Post FPR Ford Ford Falcon FG 59 01:28:43.7686
2 Jamie Whincup TeamVodafone Holden Commodore VE2 59 01:28:46.2970
3 Garth Tander Holden Racing Team Holden Commodore VE2 59 01:28:48.2868
4 Craig Lowndes TeamVodafone Holden Commodore VE2 59 01:28:48.5946
5 Rick Kelly Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore VE2 59 01:29:05.0625
6 Steve Owen VIP Petfoods Ford Falcon FG 59 01:29:07.3490
7 James Courtney Holden Racing Team Holden Commodore VE2 59 01:29:08.9542
8 Michael Caruso Fujitsu Racing GRM Holden Commodore VE2 59 01:29:09.2258
9 Fabian Coulthard Lockwood Racing Holden Commodore VE2 59 01:29:09.5911
10 Russell Ingall Supercheap Auto Racing Holden Commodore VE2 59 01:29:09.8352
11 Steven Johnson Jim Beam Racing Ford Falcon FG 59 01:29:10.6629
12 Jason Bright Team BOC Holden Commodore VE2 59 01:29:14.0679
13 Lee Holdsworth Irwin Racing Ford Falcon FG 59 01:29:15.8424
14 Todd Kelly Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore VE2 59 01:29:16.0700
15 Tim Slade Lucky 7 Racing Ford Falcon FG 59 01:29:16.3528
16 Dean Fiore Jim Beam Racing Ford Falcon FG 59 01:29:20.7668
17 Michael Patrizi Tekno Autosports Holden Commodore VE2 59 01:29:23.0576
18 Tony D'Alberto Tony D'Alberto Racing Ford Falcon FG 59 01:29:35.8822
19 Jonathon Webb Tekno Autosports Holden Commodore VE2 59 01:29:43.3933
20 Taz Douglas Team iSelect Holden Commodore VE2 59 01:29:47.5404
21 David Wall Wilson Security Racing Holden Commodore VE2 58 01:29:37.2105
22 Shane Van Gisbergen SP Tools Racing Ford Falcon FG 58 01:29:59.2571
23 Mark Winterbottom Orrcon Steel FPR Ford Ford Falcon FG 57 01:29:25.2752
DNF David Reynolds The Bottle-O Racing Team Ford Falcon FG 52 01:19:17.9555
DNF Karl Reindler Fair Dinkum Sheds Racing Holden Commodore VE2 39 57:48.2187
DNF Alexandre Premat Fujitsu Racing GRM Holden Commodore VE2 36 52:45.7393
DNF Greg Murphy Pepsi Max Crew Holden Commodore VE2 29 53:06.9176
DNF James Moffat Team Norton DJR Ford Falcon FG 17 25:11.0184