Shane van Gisbergen is the latest name etched onto the Peter Brock Trophy, coming out on top in an enthralling Ford V Holden battle in this year’s Bathurst 1000.
The fans were at home, the podium was deprived of its unique atmosphere, but van Gisbergen and co-driver Garth Tander were no less emotional as the two paid tribute to the end of the Holden name in Supercars with one last bow.
While Tander celebrated his fourth Bathurst triumph, for van Gisbergen it marks the Kiwi’s first win at the hallowed venue. It also makes amends for past years where the race win has slipped through his fingers.
In the end, the race came down to the wire with van Gisbergen involved in a spirited fight with Cam Waters across the final 20 laps, climaxing in two late safety car restarts.
Firstly, Smith buried himself in the sand trap at The Chase while above him at Skyline, Fullwood collected the wall. The two accidents saw the safety car deployed for only the fourth time in the race.
The bunching up of the pack gave Waters one last opportunity to attack the Red Bull Commodore. It also had Chaz Mostert, the silent assassin over the second half of the race, who was running third to latch onto the two leaders’ tails.
The race was restarted with seven remaining, and Waters immediately went on the assault, even offering a half-hearted lunge up the inside of van Gisbergen into Turn 2. Surviving the first wave of pressure, van Gisbergen then looked to have found some breathing room when Waters dipped two wheels off the road at the top of the mountain.
However, the Bathurst script had other intentions and another full course yellow was waved one lap later when Zane Goddard made heavy contact with the concrete fence at Reid Park.
The entire field then meandered behind an agonisingly slow safety car before race control waved the green flag with three remaining.
This time, van Gisbergen was unable to blitz the field. Waters left his signature on the bumper of the Red Bull Commodore. At the same time, Mostert and Fabian Coulthard trailed behind in third and fourth.
But van Gisbergen had the race win seemingly in control. Setting the fastest lap of the race on Lap 160 of 161 was an emphatic statement and the last blow to Waters who conceded defeat, easing home in second after a valiant effort.
“It was just awesome,” said van Gisbergen. “The last few laps were really tough, but the team did a faultless job, Garth drove amazing and we just got better and better.
I knew as long as I got through Turn 2 I would be fine.
“Each time he got pretty close but got through Turn 2 with good grip so I knew I would be ok. Those last three stints were just qualifying laps, so just awesome.
“It is a great way to send out Holden. I just wish mum and dad were here.”
Now three-time Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin had to wait patiently for his co-driver Tim Slade to complete a mammoth 71 lap stint. An unfortunate safety car period meant Slade was forced to pit two laps shy of his minimum number of co-driver laps.
They ultimately finished in fifth with McLaughlin celebrating a successful championship campaign. DJR Team Penske also claimed their second successive Teams Championship.
Scott Pye was sixth despite an electrical scare in the morning’s warm-up session.
Lee Holdsworth was seventh. Mark Winterbottom, Anton de Pasquale and James Courtney rounded out the top-ten.