Ford team Prodrive Racing Australia has dominated the opening round of the PIRTEK Enduro Cup at the Wilson Security Sandown 500, taking a rare quinella for the Blue Oval.
The Pepsi Max Crew completed a thrilling finish to the 161-lap race with young firebrand Chaz Mostert stuck to the tail of team leader, Mark Winterbottom in the run to the flag.
Winterbottom – partnered with Steve Owen – took the win over the pair of youngsters – Mostert and Dunlop V8 Supercars Series leader, Cameron Waters.
It was the first time in over 10 years that Ford was able to fill the top two positions – ironically with the PIRTEK-backed Marcos Ambrose taking the victory the last time the feat was achieved.
Jonathon Webb and Shane van Gisbergen completed the podium after a thrilling battle that included the HRT machine of Garth Tander and 2013 PIRTEK Enduro Cup Champ, Warren Luff and also the Bottle-O Ford of David Reynolds and Dean Canto.
Defending PIRTEK Enduro Cup Champions, Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell led the early stages of the event, however they were cruelled by a fuel strategy that saw them committed to an additional fuel stop by pitting with 50 laps to go.
This was further compounded by a puncture that Whincup suffered when returning to the track. Ultimately the Red Bull Racing Australia Holden would finish 15th.
The Walkinshaw Racing squad saw their four outfits in the top 10 with Tim Slade/Tony D’Alberto and Lee Holdsworth/Sebastien Bourdais squads placing sixth and seventh respectively, while Jack Perkins and Russell Ingall (who deputised for James Courtney) finished ninth.
The Lucas Dumbrel Motorsport team ended with Tim Blanchard and Karl Reindler recording a stunning eighth position.
Marcos Ambrose in the PIRTEK-backed DJR Team Penske Ford missed the start after not selecting the first gear and he and Scott Pye battled back to a solid 12th placed finish.
The PIRTEK Enduro Cup will continue at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 at the beginning of October with it coming to a finish at the Castrol Gold Coast 600 October 23-25.
RESULTS: Wilson Security Sandown 500:
1. Winterbottom/Owen (Pepsi Max Crew)
2. Mostert/Waters (Pepsi Max Crew)
3. van Gisbergen/Webb (STIX Darrell Lea)
4. Tander/Luff (HRT)
5. Reynolds/Canto (Bottle-O Racing)
6. Slade/D’Alberto (Supercheap Auto Racing)
7. Holdsworth/Bourdais (Team Eighteen)
8. Blanchard/Reindler (Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport)
9. Perkins/Ingall (HRT)
10. R. Kelly/Russell (Nissan Motorsport)