Shane van Gisbergen overcame a time penalty and slow start to win the 2021 Bathurst 6 Hour.
The Kiwi now becomes the second driver in history to have clinched victories in the Bathurst 6 Hour, 12 Hour and 1000km enduros.
Adding to the awe of his achievement, this year was van Gisbergen’s first attempt at the production car endurance race.
Fittingly, van Gisbergen was behind the wheel of the No.97 BMW M4 on the final lap, rounding out a dominant weekend.
The Supercars regular was fastest in every practice session he partook in, qualified on pole and spent his time out of the car driving a Mercedes AMG GT3 in two GT Australia World Challenge races.
He earned a win and second in the Mercedes.
It wasn’t the cleanest affairs for van Gisbergen and co-drivers Shane Smollen and Rob Rubis.
The trio were penalised five seconds for a safety car infringement midway through the race.
Van Gisbergen was deemed to have overlapped another car on a safety car restart.
Before that, van Gisbergen was tasked with making up lost ground after a sluggish start by Smollen off the front row.
Dropping to 16th at the next pitstop phase, the team meticulously worked themselves back up towards the front.
Once up in the lead on lap 74, van Gisbergen quickly pulled clear of the challenging pack, capitalising on the profusion of lap traffic between him and the next car.
However, he would be jumped by former Supercars rival Tim Slade in the next round of pitstops, which played out under safety car conditions.
Slade commanded the restart and comfortably led van Gisbergen only to experience a tyre failure on lap 96.
That brought Slade back to the lane, costing the team a likely shot at victory.
Re-gifted the race lead, van Gisbergen was never headed as he drove clear of the field to the chequered flag.
A handful of safety car restarts threatened to derail his efforts, yet van Gisbergen kept his cool and each time held on to the lead.
In the end, van Gisbergen led Tim Leahey and Beric Lynton over the finish stripe by 7.8-seconds.
It is the runner-ups’ second successive podium finish after they steered their BMW M3 to victory in 2019 (the 2020 race was cancelled).
David Russell and Grant Sherrin rounded out the rostrum in a BMW M4, re-emphasising BMW’s dominance of the event in recent history.
Russell did have a brief chance to snatch second when Leahey made an error on his trek down the mountain, coming close to wiping the wall at Forrest’s Elbow.
Slade would amble home in fourth following his late-race tyre drama, with fifth going to Brodie Kostecki, George Miedecke, and Paul Morris.
Before van Gisbergen’s victory, Morris was the only driver to have won all three Bathurst enduros. ‘The Dude’ did manage to add another title to his name today, coming home first in Class A2.