It took Craig Lowndes barely six months to win his first V8 Supercar championship.
His fourth, however, has been a painstaking 14 years in the making.
“It has been a long time,” said Lowndes, on the verge of claiming his first title since 1999 at next weekend’s season finale in Sydney.
“Fourteen years is an incredible drought.
“I had 10 years between Bathurst victories, but since we managed to win a second we’ve gone on to win a couple more.
“So who knows. It’s definitely the perfect opportunity to win another championship.
“To have such a drought and to then come back, I think after 14 years it will probably be one of the highlights (of my career).”
The ever-popular veteran is just 20 points shy of series leader and Holden teammate Jamie Whincup, who won all four of his titles in just five years.
Victory in both 250km races at Sydney Olympic Park will deliver the 2013 crown to Lowndes, but he’ll have to get past the man on the opposite end of the Red Bull garage first.
“We go down to a championship decider on the last round of a championship which – for the modern era – it’s the great battle,” he said.
“It’s probably the battle of all battles.”
Despite Ford duo Mark Winterbottom and Will Davison each sitting 124 and 223 points back, they are still in the hunt and sure to add to the noise at Homebush when the action begins Saturday week.
Lowndes has won at the Sydney 500 twice the past two years while Whincup has never graced the podium.
Yet Lowndes, not one to stir the pot, isn’t underestimating the power of his nearest rival and his impressive record on street circuits.
“If you look at his results on the Gold Coast and Clipsal, there’s no doubt he’ll go this year and make it all happen,” the 39-year-old five-time Bathurst winner said.
“In the last couple of years he’s really just needed to go (to Sydney) and finish races and to basically consolidate. But this year, he’s going to have to race to try and win the championship.
“I think whoever it will be standing on the top step as a champion will definitely deserve it.”
And if that happens to be Lowndes, he will join the likes of Whincup, Allan Moffat, Bob Jane and Jim Richards as a four-time champion.