LAST time Chaz Mostert came to the Bathurst 1000 as a defending champion it would be a massive understatement to say that things panned out unfavourably for him.
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Mostert teamed up with Paul Morris in 2014 to record one of the greatest Bathurst 1000 victories of all time, when the pair won the Great Race from the back of the grid, but on his return the following year he suffered a broken leg and wrist in a horrific qualifying crash.
He got himself back to the top of the Bathurst podium last year, alongside Lee Holdsworth, as he dominated from pole position in a Walkinshaw Andretti United Commodore that was on song from the moment it arrived at the track.
The defending champion - currently fifth in the Supercars Championship - and Holdsworth got to reflect on last year's success during Wednesday afternoon's presentation of the champion's plaque on the Russell Street Victor's Walk.
But attention quickly turned towards this week's preparation.
Mostert will be returning to Bathurst with four race victories his season to his name this season and also with a new co-driver, Fabian Coulthard.
Mostert said this time around is all about trying to emulate 2021's build up to the big race as much as possible.
"Last year it was fantastic to share that moment, and that car, with Lee and the team at WAU but last time I came here as a defending champion it didn't quite go to plan," he said.
"This year I want to try and replicate what my preparation was like last year. I'm feeling pretty relaxed. Last year was last year - it was awesome - but as you can see [with the wet weather] there's no parallels at all for how that weekend started.
"I'll be going to sleep at the same time each day, just leaving the decisions up to the team. It's usually a different sort of car when you go around in the wet here. We'll just have to see where Sunday ends up. The weather forecast keeps changing."
The wet weather has become a major talking point in the build up to the weekend.
The rain hit the city hard on Wednesday and it's not expected to let up much across the three days building up to Sunday.
Up to 40mm could hit the track on Saturday, although current predictions point towards the rain easing for the main event.
"You're always trying to get 100 per cent out of your car. Around here, to find that extra couple of tenths or half a second in the wet, you've got to risk it a lot," Mostert said.
"It's always interesting here at Bathurst. Every day's general got a story from a team or a driver where something went right or wrong.
"I hope the campers are all safe and they're not flooded. These conditions are pretty hard on those guys compared to us with a roof over our head and a wiper.
"I was gobsmacked to see how many people come out for the driver's parade. It was so awesome to see the streets as packed as they ever have been. Rail, hail or shine the fans keep turning up for this sport."
Mostert has enjoyed strong performances at Bathurst since switching to Walkinshaw Andretti United in 2020.
His first appearance with the team saw him finish third in the Great Race - his first podium finish since winning the event - before going two places better in last year's edition.
Mostert said a third Bathurst win, and victory for Holden in the brand's last ever Bathurst 1000 appearance, would be extra special.
"I remember being a kid watching the Holden and Ford rivalry on TV and wanting to be a Supercars driver myself. I've been lucky enough to drive for both brands," he said.
"This brand's involvement with the team I drive for, at Walkinshaw Andretti United, and the rich history it has there ... from back in the Holden Racing Team era means it will be pretty emotional for those guys who have been there a long time."
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