Jamie Whincup produced the perfect race to draw first blood in the V8 Supercars Coffee Club Challenge Surfers Paradise with victory in the opening race of the weekend.
However defending series champion Garth Tander sounded an ominous warning that the tables could be reversed in the deciding two 27-lap races on Sunday by following the Team Vodafone man home in a close second place.
Whincup managed to withstand a monumental surge from Tander to win the opening 27-lap race by just 0.26sec of a second, while Mark Winterbottom was close behind in third for Ford Performance Racing.
Tander was all over the rear bumper of Whincup's Ford in the closing stages of the race in a nailbiting finish, with Whincup admitting he had had to call on all his defensive powers to take the race one win.
“Obviously we didn't have the quickest car out there today but we got maximum points,” he said. “Both Mark and Garth had much quicker cars than me today but we will make some tweaks overnight.
“We had a few other little issues inside the cabin as well which cost me a little bit of time but we'll fix them – they are only small things and we'll come out strong tomorrow.”
Tander admitted that he will have to sit down with his engineer overnight and work out how to make the Commodore more settled over the kerbs for the remaining two races at the Surfers track.
“We fixed a lot of stuff that we needed to fix and we have a good idea tomorrow of what we need to fix again to make the car better again,” he said. “We need to make the car better over the kerbs.”
Tander produced an explosive race to make up a deficit on Whincup who strung together some quick laps before his quick pit stop on lap eleven to give the Queensland-based racer some breathing space.