The 2016 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour race will go down in history for McLaren, for Tekno Autosports, and for Kiwi racing star Shane van Gisbergen, who drove his team's McLaren 650S GT3 home to the biggest victory of his career from a record-setting pole position - but only just so - over the defending champions from Nissan Australia. Van Gisbergen, one of a number V8 Supercars stars making their return to the 12 Hour race after a year in political exile, already made headlines around the racing world in Saturday qualifying, when he set the outright fastest laps around Mount Panorama Circuit in an official session. The 2:01.591 he set in Q1 was already over a second faster than the previous lap record down the mountain, but somehow, "Giz" found even more speed out of the #59 McLaren in the subsequent twenty-minute shootout for outright pole - destroying the field with a best lap of 2:01.286 to secure the Allan Simonsen Pole Trophy for the race on Sunday. Despite the McLaren losing power for nearly a full agonizing minute with Alvaro Parente at the wheel in the fourth hour of the race, and Van Gisbergen himself putting the Tekno McLaren's chances of victory in peril by accumulating a drive-thru penalty for a pit lane infraction - he was able to cruise to secure the team's victory thanks to shrewd pit strategy and overall brilliant driving from he, Parente, and team owner/driver Jonathon Webb. The team completed a record 297 laps en route to the victory, and Van Gisbergen set a new fastest-ever race lap around Bathurst, just three-tenths away from their best in qualifying. This is the most prolific race that the McLaren 650S GT3 has won since its competition debut last year, which included two wins in the Blancpain Endurance Series - Van Gisbergen was at the helm for each of those victories. And for McLaren's sports car racing programme, it is the biggest victory they've claimed in one individual race since winning the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans. Tekno Autosports also becomes the fifth different winner in the last five years of the Bathurst 12 Hour race, and Pirelli won the event for the first time as a tyre supplier. The record breaking performances for Van Gisbergen throughout the weekend, and his fight back from the late penalty to secure his first major victory at Bathurst, earned him the Spirit of the Race award from the viewers and listeners of the international broadcast produced by Radio Le Mans. And no one was more appreciative of the achievement - a New Zealand-born driver, winning in a McLaren, a marque founded by one of the great Kiwi racers and innovators of all-time - the late Bruce McLaren - than Van Gisbergen, who said after the race, "To win a race like that with the McLaren name as a Kiwi is awesome...I’m pretty proud of McLaren and also the Kiwis." "I’m pumped for all the team. McLaren is just getting bigger worldwide. It’s a good reputation for the brand to add the 12 Hour to the list and hopefully there is more." However, in the closing laps of the race, last year's hero of the mountain, Katsumasa Chiyo, nearly stole the victory from underneath Van Gisbergen and the McLaren team. Chiyo set the #1 Nissan GT-R's fastest laps of the weekend as the time and the laps began to tick down. Using all of the track - and then some - to fight his way through the contenders in the last hours of the race, he then clawed back a deficit of almost fifteen seconds with a handful of laps remaining down to a final margin of just 1.276 seconds after twelve hours of flat-out racing around Australia's most demanding circuit. Chiyo's rally fell just short of securing consecutive victories for the Nissan GT-R at the Bathurst 12 Hour to match Nissan's back-to-back victories in the Bathurst 1000 from 1991-92. It did, however, secure a strong second place in their defense of the crown for he and his co-drivers, two-time Bathurst 1000 winner Rick Kelly, and RaceDepartment alumni of honour, former GT Academy champion Florian Strauss. Kelly, now a veteran of fifteen Bathurst 1000s and this weekend's Bathurst 12 Hour, had nothing but praise for his co-driver after the race: “I really learnt a lot, especially from this little fella [Chiyo], he can drive that car. Let me give you the tip.” "I think we need to check the mirrors for some paint. He got that close in places, which was really impressive....The high risk places around here, he’s got nailed. Same as the low risk. He’s definitely got the track under control,” Kelly added. Bentley Team M-Sport, keen to avenge their hard-luck fall off the podium at the last corner a year ago, fought back from setbacks that included punctures suffered on both their Continental GT3s, to get the #10 Bentley of Steven Kane, Guy Smith, and Matt Bell onto the podium for the first time in their second year at Bathurst. They finished ahead of the #2 Phoenix Racing Audi, who fell short of the hat trick after winning the Dubai 24 Hours and the GTD category at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Laurens Vanthoor, Markus Winkelhock, and Alex Davidson came home fourth despite losing lots of pace to their rivals late in their race - and not just the straight-line speed the R8 LMS was giving away down Bathurst's main straightaways throughout the entire race. Erebus Motorsports' #36 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 finished fifth, with David Reynolds, Thomas Jaeger, and Nico Bastian giving Mercedes' long-serving GT3 challenger a respectable send-off at Mount Panorama. Top honours in the Class A Amateur sub-category went to the #5 Audi R8 LMS of GT Motorsport, with Sydney businessman Greg Taylor joined by Australian GT stars Barton Mawer and Nathan Antunes to take a more-than-respectable sixth overall. Some of Class A's heaviest hitters were knocked out of contention for the win prematurely, and in the case of the #88 Ferrari from 2014 winners Maranello Motorsport, their race effectively ended on the opening lap when Mika Salo was punted into a spin by the #62 Lamborghini of Nick Percat. Ultimately, the favourite of the Ferrari contingent made it just 63 laps before retiring due to terminal damage. On lap 220, the #63 Erebus Mercedes' bid for victory ended when the left front tyre failed in the run up to Griffith's Bend, pitching 17-year-old American rising star Austin Cindric into the tyre barriers and undoing what was a remarkable first-year performance for the teenager, driving with veterans Maro Engel and Bernd Schneider. In the lower classes, Grove Racing were heavily favoured in the buildup to the race in Class B, the all-Porsche Carrera Cup division. Stephen Grove had brought in two of his most accomplished former young drivers - reigning Le Mans 24 Hours winner Earl Bamber, and Volvo V8 Supercars star Scott McLaughlin, to join him in the 12 Hour this year, and Grove's stars delivered with mammoth stints and pace that utterly overwhelmed their competition. The Grove Porsche won by a margin of fifteen laps over the second-placed car from the #6 Safe-T-Stop team, and placed twelfth in the overall classification. Victory in the Invitational Class went to the #93 MARC Cars Australia Ford Focus, driven by Jake Camilleri, Morgan Haber, and third-generation rookie Aaron Seton in his first major race at Mount Panorama. All of MARC's V8-engined prototypes locked out the top five places in the Invitational category, as they outlasted popular entries like the retro-styled Daytona Sportscar Coupé and the GWS Personnel BMW 335i, competing in its tenth straight Bathurst 12 Hour. In total, 13 safety car periods totalling 40 laps could not prevent a new record distance for the Bathurst 12 Hour, and twenty of the thirty-six cars that started saw the chequered flag at the end of the grueling event. A record 37,079 spectators were in attendance over the three-day weekend, in what is quickly becoming Australia's new great race. What did you think of the 2016 Bathurst 12 Hour? Who was your standout team or driver from the race? Leave a comment and discuss your thoughts on the race below.