The first race of the Pirtek Enduro Cup unfolded over 500km in sunny Melbourne, and the two top Holden teams battled it out at the front -though ultimately Championship leader, paired with Paul Dumbrell, proved unstoppable.
The co-drivers really showed their value, running longer stints than expected after an ill-timed safety car foiled pre-planned strategies.
Many favourites returned to the driver's seat as co-drivers, with Dumbrell, Greg Murphy, team boss Jono Webb and Steve Johnson battling it out.
Throw in some internationals, the polarising Paul Morris, fast Frenchman Alex Premat and a handful of hot up-and-comers -and it was no wonder we had a race on our hands, with the usual Championship favourites finishing off the closing laps.
What did you think were the biggest moments from Sunday's Sandown race? Vote for your favourite from v8supercars.com.au's top five.
5. Premat's return
He drove for Garry Rogers Motorsport the past two seasons, and while Alex Premat was dropped from the team full-time, he was invited back to pair with Scott McLaughlin for the Pirtek Enduro Cup.
The Frenchman and Kiwi formed a close relationship racing together last season, and racing the Volvo -which many tipped would go well at Sandown, given the track's two long straights - and Premat topped by co-driver practice sessions and didn't back out of contests in the race.
His E63 flew off the circuit and into the tyre barrier at the esses on lap 131 of the 161-lap race after a rear end failure in the car.
Concern for Holdsworth came flooding in but fortunately he was all good -and said the crash may even act as a confidence booster heading to the next event, the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000!
2. Tander versus Lowndes
Two of the sport's best went head to head in the closing stages of the Sandown 500, with the two rival Holdens fighting for the final place on the podium.
Just 0.4 seconds separated them as they crossed the line, with Tander - paired with Warren Luff, who Red Bull replaced at the end of last season after he claimed the Pirtek Enduruo Cup with Lowndes -holding position.