Anton De Pasquale has secured victory in an enthralling Merlin Darwin Triple Crown opener.
De Pasquale led a Shell V-Power Racing Team one-two, with Will Davison second.
Click here for Race 16 results
Davison, who made his 500th race start, held off a charging Shane van Gisbergen.
Van Gisbergen took on three tyres at his stop, which was a sluggish 11 seconds.
The championship leader mowed down the top five runners and was within reach of the leading teammates.
However, a defiant Davison denied van Gisbergen a chance at his teammate, who claimed win No. 1 of 2022.
“It’s awesome, always good to get a one-two,” said De Pasquale, who last won in Sydney in November 2021.
“If you’re not careful, it turns to marshmallows pretty quick.
"Shane was coming quick on three tyres, he made us work for it.
“We know we’re got the team and the package to do it."
Andre Heimgartner made the best start of the first two rows, but had nowhere to go.
De Pasquale ran around the outside of Davison, and the teammates ran line astern to Turn 5.
They made side-to-side contact; De Pasquale held the line and took the lead.
Van Gisbergen haunted Heimgartner and made an unsuccessful lunge at Turn 1 on lap 2.
Around the lap, Jack Smith found the Turn 5 barriers, and David Reynolds was turned by Bryce Fullwood at Turn 14.
Fullwood was slapped with a 15-second penalty; Reynolds, meanwhile, was forced in for repairs.
The chaos continued into Turn 3, with Will Brown and Chris Pither clashing at Turn 7.
Pither picked up a puncture and spun; Brown suffered front left damage, and retired from the race.
Van Gisbergen picked off Heimgartner at Turn 5 on lap 10, and set off after the lead Fords.
All the while, De Pasquale stretched his legs in the lead; by lap 15, the lead margin was 1.5s.
Heimgartner dropped to 3.3s behind van Gisbergen, with Chaz Mostert a factor in fifth.
Mostert stopped on lap 16; Heimgartner stopped two laps latter, and the former rounded up the Kiwi at Turn 1.
Davison and De Pasquale stopped on laps 19 and 20 respectively, leaving van Gisbergen in the lead.
The points leader pitted on lap 23, and readied to take on three tyres.
A slow stop ensured van Gisbergen emerged behind both Shell V-Power cars, Mostert, Heimgartner, Broc Feeney and Scott Pye.
Feeney, who started 15th, gained track position thanks to an earlier lap 9 stop.
Van Gisbergen picked off Pye down the pit straight on lap 25; Feeney let his teammate by three corners later.
De Pasquale held a 1.6s lead over Davison; Mostert was 1.3s behind Davison, with Heimgartner a further 2.6s behind.
On lap 26, van Gisbergen was eight seconds from the lead; three laps later, he picked off Heimgartner at Turn 5.
De Pasquale responded in the lead, and opened up a 1.6s lead by lap 33.
Mostert opened the door for van Gisbergen at Turn 6, and the series leader had to find 1.5s on Davison.
Van Gisbergen caught Davison in quick time, but the former kept the series champion at bay.
It enabled De Pasquale to run away to an eighth career win by 1.1s.
Mostert led home Heimgartner, Winterbottom and Pye, with Cam Waters demoting Feeney to ninth.
Later, Mostert was excluded due to a technical breach, promoting Heimgartner to fourth.
Van Gisbergen managed to secure fastest lap bonus points, and will carry a 272-point lead into Sunday.
Cars will return on Sunday at 8:35am local time for dual ARMOR ALL Qualifying sessions.