Shane van Gisbergen put on an extraordinary exhibition to take out the 66th New Zealand Grand Prix — delivering a show not seen in the Toyota Racing Series since its 2005 inception.
Van Gisbergen started dead last from pit lane but took the chequered flag at the end of 28 laps from Andre Heimgartner and Matthew Payne.
Van Gisbergen didn't make it out of pit lane for the formation lap due to his fire extinguisher going off in the car. The resulting penalty meant the Supercars star had to start from pit lane.
"I went to start the car and pushed the fire extinguisher button instead," he said post-race. "There was a bit of a panic and I thought it was all over.
"I think I've gone from last to first before but never from pit lane. That was the crazy thing. Right from the first practice, I knew how good the car was and I just had to get to know what the car needed. The team was brilliant and gave me a great car.
"They are all great drivers and I just pulled a few moves where I didn't give people too much choice. I'm still speechless about how good the car was."
Heimgartner was carrying an injury to his left thumb after a coming together with Brendon Leitch during the morning's race.
"It pretty hard work out there, but I'm happy how the race worked out," he said. "We struggled early in the weekend and worked really hard to turn the car around.
"The thumb was a bit troublesome but we managed to battle through for a good result."
The find of the weekend, Matthew Payne, rounded out the top three. He has driven a single seater only twice before (Formula Ford) and is a rookie in a TRS car. He was on the pace from the start.
"That race was fun, maybe not for the first half as we struggled with the tyres coming on," he said. "Once I got past the first one and then a couple more, I just got on with it. Once I got behind Andre, I just put my head down and put in qualifying laps. My team was on the radio telling me what to do; it was awesome."
Van Gisbergen may have been the star on the track but the star of the weekend was Kenny Smith.
The 79-year-old was racing his 50th NZGP and starting his 63rd consecutive motor racing season. He came into the weekend carrying a shoulder injury he was determined to get over.
"I survived. I was in a bit of pain at the end as the shoulders are buggered. The car's a bit heavy for me, so I decided to dial back and make sure I got to the end. I'm not happy being so much off the pace, though.
"Wasn't it great to see Shane? I wouldn't have thought he'd have made it to the front though. If you'd had internationals here, they would not have beaten him today."
text by Eric Thompson, NZ Herald