Jamie Whincup has won the opening race of the Sucrogen Townsville 400 to extend his lead in this year’s V8 Supercars title race.

The TeamVodafone driver claimed his fourth win from seven starts in Townsville to open up a 61-point lead over Mark Winterbottom, whose second place moves him ahead of Ford Performance Racing team-mate Will Davison in the standings.

Polesitter Winterbottom had to settle for second in the 200km race at the Reid Park street circuit after glancing the Turn 10 exit wall on lap 44, allowing Whincup to seize the effective race lead.

Having made their last stoppage on lap 42, the pair were forced to stretch their fuel-load over the closing laps, but Whincup did enough to hold off the Orrcon Steel FPR driver by just 1.2s.

“We’ve had a good car all weekend but we just haven’t seemed to get it together in qualifying,” said Whincup after the race.

“That was a great race with Frosty and there was plenty of backmarkers to navigate through so it was great to get the lead.

“It’s a fantastic week here in Townsville win lose or draw but to have a win makes it even more special, it was a good team win this one.”

After starting from tenth on the grid, Holden Racing Team’s Garth Tander made the most of his three pit stop strategy and his soft tyres to come home in third place, his third podium of the year.

Lockwood Racing’s Fabian Coulthard took fourth equalling his best race result this season, while TeamVodafone's Craig Lowndes finished fifth. Lowndes recovered several positions in the final stages after dropping outside the top 20 while having to double stack behind Whincup during the final pit stop under the Safety Car.

David Reynolds (The Bottle-O Racing Team), Steve Owen (VIP Petfoods), Rick Kelly (Jack Daniels Racing), Lee Holdsworth (IRWIN Racing) and James Courtney (Holden Racing Team) rounded out the top ten.

Davison had a tough day finishing 12th after also losing places stacking behind his team-mate under the final Safety Car deployment. The Tradingpost FPR driver now finds himself third in the title race despite having the most race wins (six) this season.

At the back of the pack, Kelly Racing guest driver, ex-Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve had a tough first solo drive, retiring after just 18 laps with engine problems.

Alexandre Prémat (Fujitsu Racing GRM) and Jason Bright (Team BOC) were the other non-finishers. Prémat was unable to continue after contact with Shane van Gisbergen (SP Tools Racing) at Turn 2 on lap 34, while Bright later collided with Michael Caruso (Fujitsu Racing GRM) after locking his front brakes into the same hairpin. Both incidents required the Safety Car to remove their stricken vehicles.

The Townsville 400 continues on Sunday with another 200km race.

Race 14 result:

1 TeamVodafone Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore VE2 72 01:36:36.6067
2 Orrcon Steel FPR Ford Mark Winterbottom Ford Falcon FG 72 01:36:37.7571
3 Holden Racing Team Garth Tander Holden Commodore VE2 72 01:36:45.6850
4 Lockwood Racing Fabian Coulthard Holden Commodore VE2 72 01:36:50.5419
5 TeamVodafone Craig Lowndes Holden Commodore VE2 72 01:36:52.5898
6 The Bottle-O Racing Team David Reynolds Ford Falcon FG 72 01:37:00.7011
7 VIP Petfoods Steve Owen Ford Falcon FG 72 01:37:01.9393
8 Jack Daniel's Racing Rick Kelly Holden Commodore VE2 72 01:37:02.8219
9 Irwin Racing Lee Holdsworth Ford Falcon FG 72 01:37:04.1669
10 Holden Racing Team James Courtney Holden Commodore VE2 72 01:37:10.5776
11 Supercheap Auto Racing Russell Ingall Holden Commodore VE2 72 01:37:11.3247
12 Trading Post FPR Ford Will Davison Ford Falcon FG 72 01:37:14.3597
13 Team Norton DJR James Moffat Ford Falcon FG 72 01:37:16.3238
14 Fujitsu Racing GRM Michael Caruso Holden Commodore VE2 72 01:37:16.5011
15 Jack Daniel's Racing Todd Kelly Holden Commodore VE2 72 01:37:27.9001
16 Tekno Autosports Michael Patrizi Holden Commodore VE2 72 01:37:35.5151
17 Jim Beam Racing Steven Johnson Ford Falcon FG 72 01:37:35.9022
18 Team Hiflex Tony D'Alberto Ford Falcon FG 72 01:37:46.1336
19 Tekno Autosports Jonathon Webb Holden Commodore VE2 71 01:36:48.5001
20 Wilson Security Racing David Wall Holden Commodore VE2 71 01:36:55.1614
21 Lucky 7 Racing Tim Slade Ford Falcon FG 71 01:37:23.5781
22 SP Tools Racing Shane Van Gisbergen Ford Falcon FG 71 01:37:34.0519
23 Team iSelect Taz Douglas Holden Commodore VE2 69 01:37:08.2469
24 Jim Beam Racing Dean Fiore Ford Falcon FG 66 01:37:09.8551
25 Fair Dinkum Sheds Racing Karl Reindler Holden Commodore VE2 60 01:37:33.1148
DNF Team BOC Jason Bright Holden Commodore VE2 38 51:50.0806
DNF Fujitsu Racing GRM Alexandre Premat Holden Commodore VE2 30 39:17.9872
DNF Pepsi Max Crew Jaques Villeneuve Holden Commodore VE2 18 23:47.0775