Reynolds and Whincup win at Pukekohe

| Photographer Credit: Mark Horsburgh

V8 Supercars larrikin David Reynolds has taken a gritty win this afternoon at the ITM 500 in Auckland, following a catastrophic tyre failure for Championship contender Craig Lowndes.

“It was like a missile hit his car and exploded,” said Reynolds of Lowndes’ 230km/h incident.

“I was a bit scared when it happened, but as soon as I knew he was OK we were good to go, and I was first.”

As a result of the win, Reynolds has jumped to second place in the Championship behind his Prodrive Racing teammate Mark Winterbottom.

There were two Kiwis on the podium with Shane van Gisbergen second in race 28 and fifth in race 29, while Scott McLaughlin was third in race 298 after placing ninth in the earlier race.

It was a tougher day for Fabian Coulthard with a 23rd placing after being knocked off the track in the first race and a much improved ninth under soft tyres in the second.

Super Black Racing’s Andre Heimgartner was 19th and 18th in his two races.

In the championship race, van Gisbergen now moves ahead of Coulthard into fifth and sixth respectively, McLaughlin remains 11th and Heimgartner22nd.

Reynolds now believes he can challenge for the Championship win, and potentially take the number one plate to his new-for-2016 team, Erebus Motorsport.

“There’s 750 points up for grabs, and I’m 287 behind – not that I’m counting,” said Reynolds.

“Anything can happen,” he said. “It’s definitely possible.”

Reynolds had a sensational battle with six-time Champion Jamie Whincup late in the last race of the day, with both men enjoying the challenge.

“It was a great day, my car was really fast,” said Whincup, who won the first race of the day – his first since Sydney Motorsport Park in August.

“Lowndesy spinning off at the front was nuts. It was just like Super Mario Kart

“It was good to hear that he was alright.”

Whincup has now been mathematically ruled out of Championship contention, 771 points behind Mark Winterbottom with only 750 remaining to be won. He was philosophical about the prospect of handing over his number one status.

“I’ve had a good day,” Whincup said.

“Maybe I won’t have as good a day when I realise that I’m going to have to hand that number one over to someone else, but I’ve had a fantastic four years representing it.”

“I’ll happily hand it over to the guy that deserves it the most.”

Local favourite McLaughlin finished the final race in third place, to the cheers of the supportive Pukekohe crowd.

“It was pretty cool. I’ve never seen a crowd so happy about a person finishing third. They were going off,” said McLaughlin.

“It was an awesome race. That last battle (between Reynolds and Whincup) was really cool, and I had box seats for it.”

“I was hoping they’d be side by side for a bit longer and I could creep up on them, but it was good racing.”

Whincup leads the race for the Jason Richards Trophy – awarded to the best driver at the New Zealand event – with qualifying and a single 200km race ahead tomorrow.

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