Celebrating New Zealand in Supercars: The best races

14 Apr
There have been 56 Supercars races held on New Zealand soil, and all have stories to tell. Here are our favourites
4 mins by James Pavey

There have been 56 Supercars races held on New Zealand soil, and all have stories to tell.

Next weekend's ITM Taupō Super400 will commence a new chapter for New Zealand in Supercars, and the 3.32km circuit is expected to produce action-packed races.

The iconic Pukekohe Park Raceway and high-risk, high-reward Hamilton Street Circuit put on several shows of Supercars at its best.

Ahead of the inaugural Taupō event, Supercars.com has picked out the best races on Kiwi soil.

Murph’s coronation: Pukekohe 2001

Unforgettable NZ Moments: Murph celebrates on the bonnet

Greg Murphy won four of the first five events at Pukekohe, and was victorious in nine of the 15 races. The run began in the very first race in 2001, with Murphy finally declared the winner of a rain-shortened race almost two-and-a-half hours after the finish. Murphy raced away from pole, but when rain came on lap 27 of the scheduled 36, he led the majority of the field in to the pits for wet tyres. Mark Larkham stayed out on slick tyres, but crashed into the wall. Red flags came out a few laps later, with Murphy leading Marcos Ambrose and Mark Skaife. Officials initially declared the race on lap 30, when Larkham was still leading, and declared him the race winner. However, Murphy had crossed the finish line for lap 33, handing him victory.

Murph shines in darkness: Pukekohe 2005

Unforgettable NZ Moments: Dumbrell and Baird's Pukekohe prang

The final race of the 2005 Pukekohe round had it all, with Craig Lowndes and Marcos Ambrose colliding on the first lap. Greg Murphy led away, before a bogged David Besnard eventually brought out the Safety Car. After the restart, Jamie Whincup bowled a wide coming onto the main straight, and as he rejoined the track Craig Baird moved across to avoid him. Instead, Baird and Paul Dumbrell collided, with both cars destroyed in a race-stopping crash. Light was fading, and Murphy survived to make it three wins from three races.

The wild child arrives: Hamilton 2011

Unforgettable NZ Moments: SVG salutes home crowd with first win

Shane van Gisbergen had come close several times since his 2007 debut, and on a day future teammate Jamie Whincup crashed with Michael Caruso, Mark Winterbottom and Jason Bargwanna, he led Lee Holdsworth late on. Light rain hit Hamilton towards the end of the race, and Holdsworth ranged closer to the rear of the #9 SP Tools Falcon. However, a 21-year-old van Gisbergen didn’t flinch, and closed out a stunning maiden Supercars win, which proved the first of 80.

A fitting finale: Hamilton 2012

Unforgettable NZ Moments: Frosty and Whincup's epic battle

The scene was set for a big finale to the Hamilton era, and a Ford vs Holden battle was just the tonic. Long-time rivals Mark Winterbottom and Jamie Whincup fought tooth and nail for victory, with Winterbottom leading. Whincup closed a three-second margin over the final 10 laps to push Winterbottom all the way, and both drivers ticked off their chicane shortcuts to push each other to the edge on the final lap. Winterbottom hung on to win by 0.7s, despite Whincup's best efforts, which included wiping off his driver’s side mirror at Turn 3.

Rivals collide: Pukekohe 2013

Final lap drama: Frosty and Whincup collide at Pukekohe

On a weekend Scott McLaughlin won his first race, and Jason Bright took out the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy, we couldn't look past the dramatic race that saw big names collide, and rivals crash into each other on the final lap. Fabian Coulthard jumped the start, before a mid-race restart saw Bright, Shane van Gisbergen and James Courtney spin out at the high speed Turn 1. However, the climax of the race is now part of Supercars folklore, with a desperate Mark Winterbottom lunge on the last lap ending in contact with Jamie Whincup, who survived to claim his first win at Pukekohe.

The epic farewell: Pukekohe 2022

SVG and Waters' incredible Pukekohe duel

News of Pukekohe's impending closure gave plenty of weight to the final round at the circuit in 2022, and there was pressure on hometown hero Shane van Gisbergen to deliver, given he had won 14 of 23 races heading to New Zealand. After winning the first Sunday sprint, van Gisbergen started eighth for the finale, with Cam Waters launching from pole. Van Gisbergen motored through the field and caught Waters in the closing laps, and with the raucous crowd behind him, van Gisbergen survived a clash with Waters through the fast final corner to get past and claim an emotional win he labelled his best in Supercars.

The inaugural Taupō event will be held on April 19-21. Fans are encouraged to secure their ticket options, with Saturday and Sunday general admission and grandstand allocations exhausted.

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