As much respect as a championship gleans within the sport, Garth Tander remains adamant that there is no bigger achievement in the public sphere than to conquer the Mountain.
And 20 years ago, Tander was that man – for the first time.
Having failed to finish his first two starts at Mount Panorama, Tander and Jason Bargwanna delivered Garry Rogers Motorsport a stunning triumph in the 2000 Great Race.
It was a result that helped secure second in the championship for the then 23-year-old and put him firmly on the map.
“I don’t think Bargs is going to be there, it would have been nice if he was there as well, we could have shared all of that,” Tander told Supercars.com.
Two decades on, Tander has a genuine chance to grab his fourth Bathurst crown – he also won in 2009 and ’11 – alongside Shane van Gisbergen at the Red Bull Holden Racing Team.
The fact the title race has already been decided in Scott McLaughlin’s favour for a third successive season means every contender enters the event with their eyes fixed purely on the Peter Brock Trophy.
“They’ll still celebrate Scott’s championship after Bathurst… but certainly when you walk down the street on the Monday morning after winning Bathurst, everyone knows what you have achieved,” Tander added.
Having completed his fortnight of quarantine in Darwin before joining the team pre-event, Tander is looking forward to competing with a stronger than ever field.
“It looks pretty red-hot this year doesn’t it?” he said.
“Obviously with [Tim Slade] now joining McLaughlin – not to say that Alex Premat wasn’t a gun co-driver – but Sladey coming off his full-time career will be very strong.
“Will Davison and Cam Waters, realistically as far as recent miles go, that’s the gun pairing isn’t it? Because Will was racing this year and obviously knows that team very well, so they will be strong.
“But in saying that, I’ve done a lap or two around Bathurst and sort of know my way so I’m pretty confident that we’ll be fast.
“Shane has been super-fast, particularly in the races in the last couple of events.”
Van Gisbergen is still chasing his first Bathurst 1000 victory, having finished runner-up in both 2016 and 2019.