Supercars leader Brown wins ‘best race of life’ in NZ

Oliver Caffrey |

Kiwi Matt Payne has earned pole spot for Sunday’s Supercar race in Taupo, New Zealand.
Kiwi Matt Payne has earned pole spot for Sunday’s Supercar race in Taupo, New Zealand.

Supercars championship leader Will Brown has won the “race of his life” after charging home to overtake Red Bull Ampol teammate Broc Feeney with eight laps remaining at the Taupo 400 in New Zealand.

Feeney looked certain to secure his fourth win of the season when he led for 39 of 60 laps in Sunday’s race after picking off pole-sitter Matt Payne early.

But Feeney had to cope with extreme friendly fire as Brown stormed home, recording the fastest lap of the race before staying right on his Triple Eight teammate’s bumper for more than four laps.

Once Brown was finally able to overtake on lap 52 he showed no sign of letting up and finished more than three seconds ahead of second-placed Feeney.

A mega drive from Will Brown! He wins Race 8 in Taupō!#RepcoSC #Supercars pic.twitter.com/M2s9tCJ3bh

— Supercars (@supercars) April 21, 2024

It was the 25-year-old’s third win in his first season with Triple Eight since moving from Erebus – and the eighth victory of his career.

“I might have touched (Feeney) once,” said Brown, who extended his lead in the championship over his teammate to 71 points.

“I was trying not to hit him, but it was hard to resist when you’re in a battle like that.

“But it was awesome. Great fun. That’s the best race of my life.

“I was b*****ed after that, I was trying everything to get around him.”

Feeney admitted he had to be more careful than if he was duelling with a driver from any other team.

“If we do come together there’s going to be some ramifications come Monday morning,” he said.

“We raced as hard as we could and being super respectful (at the same time), not rubbing panels all the time

“The racing that we put on this afternoon was pretty awesome, it was good fun on a tight, little twisty track.”

Shell V-Power’s Anton De Pasquale was the best Ford driver, finishing third for his second podium place of the weekend, earning the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy.

The Red Bull cars spoiled the party for the New Zealand crowd, who hoped Auckland-born Payne could back up fellow Kiwi Andre Heimgartner’s memorable win in the wet on Saturday.

Andre Heimgartner leads the way at Taupo.
Andre Heimgartner topped the podium during Saturday’s rain-soaked race at Taupo.

Payne came in fourth, while Heimgartner was sixth after a weekend that has shown a promising return to form for the Brad Jones Racing driver.

Defending series champion Brodie Kostecki fared better than he did on Saturday, but faded to finish 12th.

It was Kostecki’s first appearance of the season after he sat out rounds at Bathurst and Melbourne due to a messy dispute with Erebus.

After the closure of Pukekohe Raceway in 2022, the touring car series stayed solely in Australia last year.

But Taupo, about three hours south of Auckland, hosted 67,411 fans in a great result for organisers.

SUPERCARS TAUPO RACE TWO

1. Will Brown (Red Bull Ampol)

2. Broc Feeney (Red Bull Ampol)

3. Anton De Pasquale (Shell V-Power)

4. Matt Payne (Grove Racing)

5. James Golding (PremiAir Racing)

SUPERCARS CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

1. Will Brown 809 pts

2. Broc Feeney 738

3. Chaz Mostert (Walkinshaw Andretti United) 613

4. Richie Stanaway (Grove Racing) 532

5. Matt Payne (Grove Racing) 516

AAP