On this day 10 years ago, Garth Tander was the king of the V8 Supercars Championship, winning his maiden title by a mere two points over Jamie Whincup.
The Toll HSV Dealer Team driver’s decade-long quest to win the coveted championship finally proved successful, with fourth to Whincup’s second in a tense final race at Phillip Island sealing the crown.
The 2007 Dunlop Grand Finale was very much a Holden weekend, with Tander claiming victory in Race 1 on the Saturday from seventh on the grid and another win in Race 2 on Sunday December 2.
Holden Racing Team’s Todd Kelly led home to win Race 3 (in his final start with the factory team before making way for Tander for 2008), his victory enough to deny Whincup the crucial extra points he needed to seize the title.
Tander’s championship win was part of a treble for Holden fans, given the ‘lion’ won the Manufacturers’ Award and the Toll HSV Dealer Team won the Teams’ Championship.
“It’s a fantastic effort by our team all year but this weekend we dug ourselves out of the biggest hole post-qualifying,” said Tander at the time.
“Absolute elation and I just can't quite believe it right now.
“I’ve said since basically since winning Bathurst (in 2000) that I wanted to win the championship.
“That is why I moved to the HSV Dealer Team. They’ve won two championships in the three years that I have been there (after Rick Kelly had won the 2006 crown).
“We stayed out a lap too long in the final race and got caught in the sandwich between Jamie and Craig [Lowndes]. It was high-speed chess from there on. It was about managing the situation.
“I didn’t realise that we still had it if Craig elbowed his way by. When the boys said ‘don’t worry about it, just cruise to the end’ it was a pretty good feeling, I can tell you.
“They told me straight away when Craig got by. I knew that if Jamie got to the front it would be curtains for us but Todd held on and saved my bacon.”
The Phillip Island finale held on this day in 2007 was memorable for a range of other reasons with some special guests, special milestones and a full stop put on some chapters.
Other points to note from this day a decade ago that may jog your memory:
- NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jnr visited the Phillip Island round in 2007, spending time meeting drivers and teams in pitlane after dropping in to see Paul Morris and his team. He tested one of Morris's Commodores at Queensland Raceway the following week.
- John Bowe made his final V8 Supercars Championship round start aboard the Paul Cruickshank Racing-run Glenfords Falcon. It was his 226th and last round start, setting a record that stood until Russell Ingall matched it in Townsville in 2013.
- Mark Skaife contested his 200th championship round in a brand new, specially-numbered #200 Holden Racing Team Commodore VE.
- Russell Ingall made his last start with Stone Brothers Racing, bringing an end to a five-year relationship with the Ford team that netted the 2005 title.
- This was the end of the last season before the introduction of a points system that has largely stayed the same from 2008 onwards, with 300 points maximum available per weekend.
- This was the last V8 Supercars round held with the field exclusively using H-pattern gearboxes. From the 2008 Clipsal 500, the option of using a sequential gearshift was introduced.
- This round was the end of the first year of Channel 7's stint covering Supercars. It had last broadcast the championship in 1996 and ended up televising it from 2007 to ’14.
- The round was on-course commentator Barry Oliver’s last, bringing an end to a 15-year run in the position for the much-loved Tasmanian after he’d started in the role in 1992 in the days of the series being known as the Shell Australian Touring Car Championship.