This year's Bathurst 1000 was the perfect realisation of Shane van Gisbergen's comment in his pre-race interview with the Weekend Herald. From the time the lights went out at 1pm Sunday afternoon the Great Race turned out to be a six-and-a –bit-hour sprint race.
Van Gisbergen finally got the win he so coveted after coming oh so close over the past few years.
"It's just awesome," said van Gisbergen after getting out his car. "The team did a faultless job all weekend and the car got better all weekend.
"It's a great way to see out Holden and thanks to [co-driver] Garth [Tander] who did an awesome job. I just wish Mum and Dad were able to be here."
Compared to previous years, on balance the 2020 race was a little subdued for the majority of the contest with the leading protagonists there or there about all afternoon, though there were a few fender benders, including Jamie Whincup's huge error and the odd mechanical drama.
However, the race came monumentally alive over the last 20 laps. With two safety car incursions putting pressure on race leader van Gisbergen at each restart it was edge of the seat stuff. The closing laps were exhilarating with Cameron Waters trying everything in his repertoire to get past the cagey Kiwi each time the safety car pulled into pitlane. The laps the pair put together where some of the best you'll see at any race meeting. It was nip and tuck on steroids.
"The last few laps with the safety car coming out twice was tough. I knew if I got through turn two okay, I'd be fine. He [Waters] got pretty close a few times but I managed to get good grip and was alright," said van Gisbergen.
"Man, those last few laps were all qualifying laps — just awesome. The team effort was on point and having good track position was important as it's super hard to pass.
"It's been an awesome couple years for the Kiwis [in the category] and for me to finally win this race has been amazing."
The second big story of the day was the pairing that had the pedigree and historic results at Mount Panorama coming unstuck due to an uncharacteristic error from main game driver Whincup. He and Craig Lowndes have 11 Bathurst 1000 wins between them and were among the leading favourites to win.
It all came unstuck very early in the race when Whincup tried to put a move on Brodie Kostecki heading into The Cutting and cannoned into the outside wall ending their race.
"This place, you've got to have respect for it," said Lowndes.
"If it doesn't, it bites you. We've all made mistakes here. It is a shame, the car was working extremely well.
"Jamie was in for a stint and a half and it is difficult because obviously you want to get around cars, and as soon as you're about half a car's width wide coming into The Cutting, it's all obviously dirty there. I'm sure he'll be disappointed with himself."
Supercars champion elect and former Bathurst winner Scott McLaughlin, along with co-driver Tim Slade, managed to come home in a solid fifth place to round out his stellar year before heading off to the US to embark on his next adventure in IndyCar.