Shane van Gisbergen is hoping he will have a chance to defend his Bathurst 6 Hour crown come next year.
Making his debut in the production car endurance race over the weekend, van Gisbergen claimed the overall victory in a dominant display.
The Kiwi ace was fastest in every practice session before putting the No.97 BMW M4 on pole position Saturday evening.
He then overcame a time penalty and slow start to cross the finish stripe over 12 seconds clear of the next car.
Speaking after the race, van Gisbergen says he would love to have a shot at defending his crown next year.
“I hope so,” van Gisbergen said. “I loved being here and I’ve always wanted to have a go.
‘You watch this race and they are very fast cars on the straight, they’re faster than a GT3 on Conrod Straight.
“In the corners they’re sliding around and watching them move around, it’s cool to be a part of.
“The level here is more grassroots, everyone is having fun and racing for the right reasons.
“I love it.”
Van Gisbergen did have to work for his victory, with a five-second time penalty and late safety car threatening to snatch away his victory chances.
“We saved our brakes so we could push at the end,” he said. “There was a bit of pressure to make the five seconds, but the car was faultless.”
Co-drivers Rob Rubis and Shane Smollen were effusive in their praise of van Gisbergen over the race.
“It’s very surreal, that’s for sure,” Rubis said. “To experience it together is incredible.
“We’re motor racing nuts, we both are, and to experience it with someone as incredible as Shane – the whole concept is just a ‘pinch yourself’ moment.”
Smollen described van Gisbergen as “a freak talent”. Similar words have resonated across New Zealand and Australia this year given van Gisbergen’s incredible winning record.
Firstly he claimed a class victory in the Auckland City Rally, and overall wins in the Battle of Jack’s Ridge and New Zealand Grand Prix.
He is also unbeaten in the 2021 Repco Supercars championship after five races.
“When people talk about Shane they talk about talent,” Smollen said.
“But his preparation, his thought and his time he has put into this despite his other engagements was enormous. The strategy was basically his strategy, he really cared, and it showed.
“Yes he’s a freak talent, but you only get so far with freak talent, it’s everything else and he’s got it.”
Van Gisbergen’s next race weekend will be over April 17-18 for round three of the Supercars championship in Tasmania.