HOLDING the lead of the Bathurst 1000 - it was a moment that Anton De Pasquale relished at Mount Panorama last year but now he doesn't just want to lead the race, he wants to win it too.
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De Pasquale arrived at Bathurst sitting fourth in the championship and with just one win to his credit for 2022, but the Shell V Power Racing talent says he's ready to "have a good crack" at the Great Race.
He'll be sharing the seat of his #100 Mustang with Tony D'Alberto, the man who made an excellent start to last year's 161-lap epic.
Though their race ultimately ended on lap 139 due to an engine failure, De Pasquale was happy with what came before then.
"We managed to start on the front row which I think is still a cool achievement at Bathurst. Wind back 10 year ago and I wouldn't have even thought I'd be in the race," he said.
"Tony led three-quarters of the first lap and that for both of us was the first time leading the race too. I said to him after the race 'Let's try and do it for another 160 next year please'.
"Last year no-one was beating car #25 they were too fast, but hopefully we have that kind of speed this year and put on a show."
In opening practice at Mount Panorama on Thursday there was one nervous moment for De Pasquale. With just under 16 minutes left in the session he spun the car at Forrest's Elbow.
Though his rear wiped the wall, it was not a major impact. In fact that slight touch was the only impact he made with the concrete with only the rear wing sustaining damage.
He was able to drive away and finish the session in eighth with a quickest lap time of 2:05.47. Team-mate Will Davison topped the list with a 2:04.3691.
"The save was definitely better than the error," he said.
"Just had a half rejected shift, then you got a bit wide and the rears are trying to lock."
Just as De Pasquale was happy to pull off that save, he's happy to have D'Alberto, who is in his seventh season as a co-driver for DJR, in his Mustang again this year.
While De Pasquale hasn't finished on the podium at Bathurst in his four prior attempts, D'Alberto ran third in the 2017 edition.
"He does an awesome job and has been with for the team for a fair few years. Even having him there last year was good for me because it was my first season with the team," De Pasquale said.
"He's a safe, fast pair of hands which is what you want for Bathurst. Hopefully we can give him a little bit faster car this year."
While De Pasquale has just the one race win so far this season, he has enjoyed 10 podium finishes and gone from pole position three times.
It's evidence that he can compete for wins and he's backing himself to do just that come Sunday's Great Race.
"I think we have as good a shot as anyone. We've been doing some stuff to improve our form there, we were okay there last year, we were never sort of in the race to win it, but we were always in that podium race," he said.
"So we've focussed on what we think were a couple of weaknesses and hopefully that transpires this year.
"It's that one place where you never know, so we'll put our best foot forward, have a good crack at it."
The race for Bathurst 1000 glory will commence at 11.15am on Sunday.
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