FORD Performance Racing's Mark Winterbottom has won the first race of the Tradingpost Perth Challenge, taking victory in today's 50-lap race by 3.2 seconds over TeamVodafone's Jamie Whincup.
Winterbottom survived an opening lap stoush with Garth Tander and displayed impressive pace on hard tyres to put himself well into contention early in the race.
On opposing tyre strategies, Winterbottom pitted for softs one lap before rival Whincup pitted for his set of hard tyres.
... the car was a jet and it was a ripper job by the boys.
Whincup rejoined the race behind Winterbottom, who was never headed and went on to claim his second race win in a row.
"We went in blind ... we hadn't been out in the dry, but the car was a jet and it was a ripper job by the boys," said Winterbottom.
Whincup's second place has handed him the championship lead, courtesy of Will Davison's demise on the opening lap.
"It's a bit too early to be talking about the championship ... I'm sick of being the bridesmaid to be honest," said Whincup.
"We had a few little issues and just didn't quite have the pace today.
"The idea behind starting on softs was that hopefully the rain poured down and then we'd stick the wets on and happy days. That didn't happen but it was worth a gamble."
Pole-sitter Garth Tander's day ended in disaster on the opening lap, when contact with David Reynolds sent the Toll HRT Commodore spinning in front of the field.
Will Davison was caught up in the incident and was forced to pit with suspension damage, eventually finishing 25th.
Craig Lowndes rounded out the podium, with Lee Holdsworth, James Courtney, Tim Slade, Shane van Gisbergen, Michael Caruso, Rick Kelly and Jason Bright rounding out the top ten.