James Courtney has made a triumphant return to racing by pulling off a thrilling win with teammate Jack Perkins at the Castrol Gold Coast 600.
Courtney returned this round after he suffered five broken ribs and a punctured lung in a freak helicopter accident which sidelined him for two months.
And what a return it was as he wonin spectacular style with a clean drive and smart strategy from the Holden Racing Team in a tense fuel race.
The win is Courtney's first on the Gold Coast and Perkins first in V8 Supercars, a just reward for the effort Perkins has put in during the Pirtek Enduro Cup subbing as main driver the past two events.
Courtney beat Rick Kelly and David Russell in the Nissan Altima - on a similar strategy - by 1.9sec with teammates Garth Tander and Warren Luff home in third.
"The guys did a cracking job with the strategy, had pretty good car speed just battled on," Courtney said.
"Jack's done a great job filling in for me, he's really stepped up ... we need him back next year and we need him to do this every year."
Perkins was clearly emotional in the closing laps, after starting the race from 11th on the grid.
"I've tried pretty hard for this, I'm just proud of what James and I could achieve," Perkins said.
The third place finish meant Tander and Luff were awarded the Pirtek Enduro Cup - HRT's first, and Luff's second.
The #22 started outside the top 10 with Perkins behind the wheel and in the early stages it was Steven Richards in the #888 who had control. Richards had a blinding start against the pole sitting Volvo, and handed over to Craig Lowndes in the lead. An ill-timed safety car meant eventual winners double stacked behind car #2 and the team elected to take an unusual stop for an early splash and dash.
Different teams went for different plays as they pitted the cars late in the race and while all eyes were on Lowndes, late in the race Courtney emerged as the key contender.
The question was whether they'd make it - and in a fairytale finish, the #22 crossed the line in P1.
The #888 finished fourth, ahead of yesterday's winners Shane van Gisbergen/Jonathon Webb, while Championship leader Mark Winterbottom sacrificed more of his points lead, coming home 11th.