It has been two years for the pinup boy of V8 Supercars to break through for a race win. Today James Courtney realised his enormous calibre with victory in the opening race of the City of Ipswich 400 at Queensland Raceway.

Courtney also took his second pole position for his Jeld Wen Racing team on what was as close to the perfect day as you can get. He held off a charging Championship leader Mark Winterbottom in the closing laps.

Holden convert Russell Ingall produced his first 'podium' in his new Supercheap Auto team, ironically next to his old team-mate in Courtney, who said later he had wanted to 'silence' his critics after a Sydney newspaper driver survey labelled him the 'most over-rated' driver.

"It's a good feeling to get that monkey off my back and silence a few people," Courtney said. "I don't really care what other people think about me as long as I am happy with what I am doing. I value other people's opinions but it doesn't affect me at all. It's one thing that racing drivers are not short of and that's an ego.

"When it (the survey) first came out I let my results speak for themselves. I've had quite a few podiums this year ahead of a lot of other guys, but everybody is entitled to their own opinion.

"For us it has been two and a half years in the making. Now we can get on with proper racing and we don't have to have that thing hanging over our head any more."

Ingall was also happy in being vindicated following his decision to swap from Ford to Holden and to what some had described as the under-achieving Supercheap Auto Racing.

"I suppose it's like what James has gone through this year," Ingall said. "I had my critics at the beginning of the year. A lot of people said that it was the last time I would win a race in my career but that gives me a lot of incentive.

"To turn this around to potentially a race winning team within six months they (the team) should be congratulated. You are not a solo flyer in this game. There are a lot of people in the background making my life easier. It was a gamble in a lot of areas. We are sneaking up on it, not trying to make too much noise and flying under the radar until we get this thing sorted out.

"Being the first Holden team (today) is a bonus but we are not content with that. We have got further to go yet so this all blends well for the rest of the year. And the other good thing is that this is not once in a blue moon thing, we are always competitive."

While all the talk centred around Courtney and Ingall, Winterbottom quietly chipped away and again extended his Championship lead. He was close to making a move on Courtney but just did not get a window of opportunity.

"I didn't give up because if I did Russell would have been on top of me," he said. "James didn't make a mistake. I tried to keep pressure on him the whole time and he stayed on. When he does that you can't do much more.

"Coming here we thought that if we could survive we are doing well but we've done even better than that and almost fighting for a win. In 12 months people are keep saying how much our cars have turned around and we've done a lot of hard work.

"Our weak tracks are not becoming strong so I can't wait to get to our strong tracks."

Courtney held on with all he had in the closing five laps as Winterbottom threatened. Courtney started to wobble ever so slightly as his first race win got closer and closer. All the time Ingall was also creeping closer to the pair as the front battle raged.

Further down the order meanwhile Garth Tander finished fourth, followed by his Toll Holden Racing team-mate, Mark Skaife.

"I had a really good start and our pace early was encouraging, but tyre life was a bit of an issue late in the race so I needed to back off a little to look after them for tomorrow," Tander reflected.

"It was pleasing we were closer to the pace of the Fords today than we were yesterday. I think we're in good shape for tomorrow, but we've got a lot of work to do."

"We were the opposite of Garth and probably detuned the car after qualifying," added Skaife. "Our start wasn't that great, and then I locked a brake on the first lap. The car speed wasn't great, but later in the race it was really good.

"We need to be a little more aggressive at the start of the race, but we're within striking distance of the front runners and with some changes we're hopeful of better tomorrow."

Will Davison was sixth in his DJR/Jim Beam Ford, with FPR's Steven Richards and HSV's Rick Kelly coming in seventh and eighth respectively.

"I wanted to aim for sixth in that race. Initially we probably had the car to get there but we struggled in a couple of places for a bit of mid corner speed," Rick explained. "Unfortunately that hurt us a little bit.

"We have an extremely good car through turns one and two though which allows us to pass people into turn three. All-in-all it was a pretty promising day for us, from fifteenth to eighth is a good start. If we can move back into the top five in tomorrow's first race it will put us in a good position again."

Jamie Whincup and Lee Holdsworth rounded out the top ten, the former having been as high as fourth before yet another racing incident with Will Davison dropped him five places.

"Our pitstop strategy was good. After the stop I was in fourth position just behind Craig, so the race was there for the taking. Unfortunately I got involved in yet another racing incident which sent me back five spots. Tonight the guys and I will spend some time sorting out some minor handling issues so I can hopefully move forward tomorrow," stated Whincup.

Paul Dumbrell and Paul Morris finished just outside the top ten in eleventh and twelfth.

Dumbrell had a good start and after being relegated to 20th for missing the scales in qualifying, was pretty pleased to have fought his way back, gaining eight places in the opening few laps.

"It was pretty good (the start) and it is something I have been working on over the last few rounds," noted the HSV Dealer Team man. "I have been reasonably good the last couple of years but have dropped the ball lately and it has been good to see what I have been working on has paid dividends after a disappointing qualifying having missed the scales."

The Queensland 400 will now conclude tomorrow [Sunday] with the final two 38-lap V8 Supercar races to be held at 11.00am and 1.40pm [all times local].

To see the race 1 result in full, click here