BY his own admission, John Kipling was in a "cocoon" when he took part in the first Repco Reliability Trial around Australia in 1979.
But the South Australian was all smiles and quiet satisfaction when he was in Bathurst on Friday afternoon as the 40th anniversary re-run of the event wound down to its conclusion.
"We have had a bit more bitumen this time, thank god," he said as the entrants gathered out the front of the National Motor Racing Museum at Mount Panorama.
"It's not all just go, go, go like it was in '79.
"It has been very challenging, though. Everyone thought it was just going to be a tarmac tour, but it has certainly not been.
"And everybody has been pushing very hard. Everyone, including ourselves, have been pushing very hard."
Mr Kipling's race in the first Repco Reliability Trial - which started and finished at Melbourne Showgrounds and was won by Bathurst 1000 legend Peter Brock - ended when his HZ Holden ute's motor blew at Geraldton in Western Australia.
"There's been a little bit more time to interact with other teams [in the 2019 event] and see what is going on," he said.
"In '79, I was just in my own cocoon. I just drove and drove and drove. I didn't stop to rest.
"I had three-and-a-half hours' sleep in Perth before setting off for Darwin."
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The 2019 Repco Reliability Retrial started at Melbourne Showgrounds on August 5 and will finish there on Sunday after a clockwise lap of the continent.
Mr Kipling said he was proud to have driven the entire way in the 2019 event - "as I did in 79".