SUPERCARS PHILLIP ISLAND 500
Scott McLaughlin has put his 2017 demons behind him, securing a stunning victory in the first Supercars race of the Phillip Island 500.
The Shell V-Power star continued his epic rivalry with Red Bull Holden's Jamie Whincup, with the pair going head-to-head in the 250km race on Saturday.
Nissan's Rick Kelly rounded out the podium with an impressive overall drive after starting from sixth on the grid.
It was McLaughlin's fifth career win at the Victorian venue, taking him to equal fourth on the overall list alongside Whincup and Garth Tander.
The victory puts him a point ahead of Whincup in the championship standings heading into the second race on Sunday.
Despite starting from pole, the New Zealand ace trailed for most of the 57-lap affair after Whincup's brave call on the opening turn.
The seven-time champion flew past McLaughlin on the outside to set a hot pace and victory looked to be his for most of the race.
McLaughlin trailed Whincup into both of their pit stops as the tactical games began, with the former having the better of the exits.
But the young driver upstaged the legend with 17 laps to go on turn two and never relinquished his lead despite Whincup's best efforts.
"The battle between Shell V-Power Racing and Red Bull is fantastic. I am glad to be a part of it and I've always had great battles with Jamie," McLaughlin said.
"Last year was amazing and it's always sweet when you are on top."
Whincup commended his rival's race, saying McLaughlin "just did a better job".
"They had a very fast race car and Scotty did a great job. There were no parity issues, carbon bonnets or anything, so we will work harder next time," Whincup said.
It was sweet redemption for McLaughlin, who had pole position for both 2017 races only for Shell V-Power teammate Fabian Coulthard and Chaz Mostert to come out on top when tyre troubles plagued him.
But Coulthard was in trouble this time around, with his Falcon sent the back of the grid for a technical breach despite qualifying second fastest, but recovered to finish 13th.
Whincup's Red Bull Holden teammate Shane van Gisbergen and veteran Craig Lowndes rounded out the top five.
Sunday 250km race gets underway at 1.50pm (AEST). Qualifying begins at 10.40am.