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Strange contrasts for Holden in NZ V8s

New Zealand represents a dominant domain for one side of the Team Vodafone V8 Supercar garage - for the other, a hoodoo.

Reigning champion Jamie Whincup will take a confident streak into this weekend's round in Hamilton, while Craig Lowndes will be out to break a cross-Tasman jinx.

Whincup and fellow Holden driver Garth Tander will have history on their side this weekend, the pair making more treks to the podium than any of their rivals.

The record stands at four race wins for Whincup and three for Tander along with a third-place finish.

Lowndes, one of the most successful drivers in Supercar history, has struggled consistently, dogged by a litany of bad luck and mechanical dramas.

He has managed just two top-five results in four years in Hamilton and four top-10 results all up from nine races.


Whincup has led a whopping 168 of the 462 laps of racing in Hamilton over the past four years - a number more impressive considering he actually didn't line up in the three races in 2008 after a qualifying crash.

Lowndes has led just two and has never won a V8 Supercar race in New Zealand, including the seven years the series ran at Pukekohe and the four at Hamilton.

Apart from Hamilton, Holden Racing Team's Tander also won three times at Pukekohe.

"It's nice to have history on your side. It means you've got it right here a few times before but we won't be counting on the past to do well this weekend," Tander said.

"Hamilton's a challenging circuit, it's real hard on brakes and suspension, and the walls don't give an inch - you have to be committed to produce fast laps and the set-up has to be absolutely spot on.

"It doesn't come easy but it is easy to leave here with your tail between your legs if you do get it wrong."

This week's event will be the final time the series visits Hamilton with industry talk suggesting a return to the permanent Pukekohe circuit, which held the annual NZ round from 2001-07.

"It's a shame we're finishing up in Hamilton as there's enough passion and support in New Zealand for V8 Supercars. It just seems that this particular event didn't quite hit the right note," Tander said.

"It may not have worked but the city should be congratulated for giving it a go.

"If the reports are right, I'd be happy to go back to Pukekohe. It's a great circuit, but it's also sad they won't have a street race - the Kiwis could pull off something as big and successful as Adelaide's Clipsal 500."

The event will feature two 200km races, one each on Saturday and Sunday, with both the standard and faster soft series control tyres mandated.

Holden has dominated NZ, winning 26 of 30 races since the championship first crossed the Tasman in 2001.

Local hero Greg Murphy has won nine of those races but has not added to his total since 2005.

Murphy returns after missing the last round in Tasmania three weeks ago while he was recovering from back surgery to rectify an injury that was re-aggravated last month.

Ford's Will Davison leads the driver standings heading into the event - Davison is 18 points ahead of Whincup with Tander sixth.