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Brown wins the battle of the Bulls while De Pasquale claims JR Trophy

Will Brown has overhauled Broc Feeney in a tense battle to win the ITM Taupō Super400 finale, with Anton De Pasquale clinching the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy.

Brown cleared Feeney with nine laps remaining to claim the lead, following a nail-biting battle that saw the two Red Bull Ampol Camaros run side-by-side on multiple occasions.

Behind them, De Pasquale finished a distant third to claim the Richards Trophy, emulating former Shell V-Power Racing Team driver Scott McLaughlin, who won the trophy in 2018.

De Pasquale (#11 Shell V-Power Ford) hung onto the trophy despite a spirited charge from Saturday winner Andre Heimgartner (#8 R&J Batteries Chevrolet) , who missed out on an emotional Richards Trophy win by one position.

Heading to the Bosch Power Tools Perth SuperSprint on May 17-19, Brown leads Feeney by an extended 71 points.

“I was trying not to use the front bar on him,” said Brown, who claimed his third win of the season.

“It was awesome racing between the team there, that’s what it’s all about. I hope everyone out there in New Zealand loved that, but God, I was buggered at the end of that. I was trying everything to get around him and I locked the rears and just got around.

“Mega day, thanks to everyone at Red Bull Ampol, that was awesome. I hope everyone enjoyed it, had a lot of fun with Broc there.

Pole-sitter Matt Payne (#19 Penrite Ford) won the race to Turn 1 over Feeney (#88 Red Bull Ampol Chevrolet) as Brodie Kostecki (#1 TFH Hire Chevrolet) bogged down behind, with the reigning champion turning shallow to hang onto fourth behind De Pasquale.

Behind them, Chaz Mostert (#25 Mobil 1 Optus Ford) was boxed in and dropped from ninth to 15th by the end of the first lap, forcing the Walkinshaw Andretti United driver into an early recovery mission.

Payne opened up a 1.6s lead over Feeney by lap 6, with Kostecki defending from former teammate Brown (#87 Red Bull Ampol Chevrolet). Brown passed Kostecki at Turn 11 on lap 9, and set off after the leaders.

Payne began to hit tyre trouble and was initially passed by Feeney on lap 11, before retaking the lead. Feeney eventually got past, leaving Payne vulnerable to De Pasquale and Brown behind.

De Pasquale got by his Ford rival at Turn 1 on lap 15, with Brown going by at Turn 11 of the following lap. By that time, Feeney led De Pasquale by 2.6s, with Brown 1.3s behind.

De Pasquale was first of the leaders to stop on lap 18, with Feeney coming in on the following lap. Brown, Payne, Kostecki and Heimgartner were brought in on the next lap, with Feeney regaining the lead by 2.4s over De Pasquale when the field cleansed on lap 23.

Brown was 4.1s behind in third ahead of the undercutting PremiAir Nulon teammates of Tim Slade (#23 Chevrolet) and James Golding (#31 Chevrolet), with Payne sixth ahead of Kostecki, Will Davison (#17 Shell V-Power Ford), Jack Le Brocq (#9 TFH Hire Chevrolet) and Percat. Mostert, meanwhile, dropped to effective 14th after a slow stop, leaving the WAU star remonstrating in the cabin.

Brown caught De Pasquale and was within striking distance on lap 32, with Brown showing the nose at Turn 5. At Turn 11, Brown made his move stick, with Feeney 4.3s up the road.

Mostert’s charge continued, with the WAU driver up to seventh on lap 36. However, there was a minor scare with smoke emanating from behind the car, albeit from a suspected rubber clump. The #25 was brought in on lap 37 for his second stop.

Feeney’s lead over Brown dipped below two seconds on lap 37, with a number of teams beginning to head into three-stop territory. By lap 38, De Pasquale was 6.7s behind Brown.

Just as the margin between Feeney and Brown dipped under a second, Triple Eight brought the leader in, with Brown stopping on the following lap. Feeney retained the effective lead over Brown, with Ryan Wood (#2 Mobil 1 Truck Assist Ford) undercutting De Pasquale into effective third.

With 17 laps remaining, Feeney led Brown by 2.3s, with Wood 7.7s behind Brown. De Pasquale was 3.2s behind Wood, with Mostert and Payne disputing fifth position.

Brown slashed the lead to 0.8s by lap 46, with De Pasquale reeling in Wood. WAU brought Wood in for a third stop, releasing De Pasquale into third, with Brown all over his teammate. The two ran line astern into Turn 11 on lap 49, with Brown hitting the rear of the #88 on the following lap. Brown tried again on lap 51, first at Turn 6 before running line astern again into Turn 11.

On lap 52, Feeney bowled a wide into Turn 5, opening the door to Brown to take the lead, with the points leader opening up a 1.6s lead by lap 57.

Behind them, Mostert dropped behind Golding, with Heimgartner chasing the WAU Ford in a bid to keep his Richards Trophy hopes alive. However, the Kiwi fell one position short as Brown claimed victory by 3.3585s, with De Pasquale 14.2612s down in third.

Payne, Golding, Heimgartner, Mostert, Le Brocq, Cam Waters (#6 Monster Energy Ford) and Wood rounded out the top 10, with Kostecki dropping from 10th to 12th after being penalised over a late clash with Richie Stanaway (#26 Penrite Ford).

The 2024 Repco Supercars Championship will resume at the Bosch Power Tools Perth SuperSprint on May 17-19.