CHAZ Mostert still cannot explain how he pulled off one of the more remarkable victories ever seen in the Bathurst 1000 at last year's mountain classic.
The 23-year-old Prodrive Racing Australia sensation triumphed after starting from last on the grid with his co-driver at the time, Paul Morris, in what was one of the most dramatic races at in the history of the race at Mount Panorama.
By lap 45 their car was lodged in a tyre barrier at the circuit's worn-down turn two.
But 10 safety cars, 13 pit stops and a one-hour suspension of the race to repair the damaged section of track helped push the Ford drivers up the field.
All before a remarkable final lap that will forever live on in Bathurst folklore, when Mostert passed Jamie Whincup with the six-time V8 Supercars championship winner's car spluttering home on an empty tank.
"You know just as much as me," Mostert told APN when asked how on earth he managed to win the race.
"It was crazy and I'm still pinching myself about it, to be honest.
"Starting from last place, I just thought finishing in the top 10 would be a very good day.
"I felt the crashes didn't really help us either - we were towards the back of the pack for most of the day."
But the old saying 'you're only as good as your last race' certainly applies at the beast that is the Bathurst 1000.
Pulling off such a dramatic win in trying circumstances last year certainly does not mean Mostert - who sits second on the V8 Championship ladder behind teammate Mark Winterbottom this year - will be walking to the Mt Panorama track thinking he's bulletproof this weekend.
"I don't know if you're ever equipped for a challenge like Bathurst," he said.
"It's such a tricky race - it's as if it's its own championship, even though it's just one race.
"I didn't really get a chance to let my hair down after my win last year (with the Gold Coast 600 coming two weeks later)."
Despite the gruelling schedule, Mostert believes he's well equipped to handle the rigours of the Enduro Cup, with the long-distance Gold Coast 600 (October 23-25) and Auckland 500 (November 6-8) events to come.
"We've had a consistent year so far, and we got a good result (second) at the Sandown 500 (the first of the Enduro Cup events last month)," he said.
"The car is very quick and my co-driver (Cameron Waters) is too.
"Cameron's a good young up and coming driver."
It's the enthusiasm of the fans which Mostert loved so much last year, and why he is so desperate to defend his Bathurst title this weekend.
"People take the whole week off work to come to the Bathurst 1000," he said.
"They set up their tents and they're so passionate. The atmosphere is amazing.
"As the race gets closer I feel more accepted at the event after last year's win, but I really don't want to lose it (the Bathurst champion title) this year either."
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