10 years on: Tander beats Lowndes by 0.29s in Bathurst epic

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 28/11/2021
  • By James Pavey

The 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000 marks the 10th anniversary of one of the most thrilling battles for victory in Great Race history.

On October 9, 2011, Garth Tander defeated Craig Lowndes by 0.2917s to claim his second win in three years.

Nick Percat, Tander’s co-driver, became the first driver since Jacky Ickx in 1977 to win on his Bathurst debut.

Percat also became the first South Australian born driver to win the Bathurst 1000.

To date, it remains the most Bathurst win by a Walkinshaw car, and it was the Holden Racing Team’s 200th race win.

Tander and Lowndes now combine for 11 Bathurst wins, and are regarded as perhaps the best closers in modern Bathurst history.

It was only fitting that they went toe-to-toe for victory, with 2007 series champion Tander emerging victorious.

However, it was another stirring Bathurst performance by Lowndes, who had been stung by several double-stacked pit stops.

Lowndes restarted seventh with just 21 laps to go, and fought through the field to be on Tander’s rear bumper in the closing laps.

Tander hung on in a thrilling battle to the end, and denied Lowndes’ co-driver Mark Skaife victory in his final Bathurst.

The #2 HRT pairing of Tander and Percat were the first combination to win after starting ninth, a feat repeated by Lowndes and Steven Richards in 2018.

The 2011 race also equalled the 2010 race’s record for most cars on the lead lap, with 19 cars completing all 161 laps.

Tander had enjoyed a strong 2011 season; he won races in Adelaide and Townsville, and also reached the podium in Hamilton, Perth and Winton.

HRT had began 2011 with a stunning Abu Dhabi win for James Courtney, who took the championship #1 to the team.

Lowndes, meanwhile, was on a run of four straight wins including the last-start Phillip Island enduro with Skaife.

The 2011 race’s flashpoint involved David Besnard, who had a major accident at Griffins Bend.

Besnard's Jim Beam Racing Falcon was followed by a trail of fire; he managed to get out with track marshals and fire crews dousing the flames.

Greg Murphy and the late Allan Simonsen placed third after starting from a surprise pole.

It would be Murphy's eighth Bathurst podium and the first for Dane Simonsen, who passed away following a Le Mans crash in 2013.

On the final restart, Murphy sat second, but Lowndes quickly made his presence felt.

Eventual series champion Jamie Whincup, who was partnered with Andrew Thompson, was a win hopeful before disaster struck late on.

At first, it appeared that Whincup might have ran out of fuel exiting the Cutting.

However, it turned out that his team had to replace the #88 TeamVodafone Commodore’s battery twice before the race ended.

Whincup was in second behind Tander when he slowed before coming to a stop, which deployed the Safety Car.

Some drivers made a stop, which others were stuck behind Whincup, who got going again under yellow.

From there, it was Tander’s race to lose, the #2 Commodore surviving a lick of the Griffins Bend concrete earlier in the race with Percat behind the wheel.

On lap 156, Lowndes only had Tander in front of him, with the HRT Holden 2.3s up the road.

Lowndes was on a charge and muscled through the traffic, but he ultimately fell less than 0.3s short of a fifth Bathurst win in six years.

Whincup’s dramas also helped Lowndes into the series lead.

"That’s racing and I would go back and do it again in a minute,” Lowndes said.

"Ran with Garth all day and tried at the end but came up short.”

Tander wouldn’t win again until Townsville in July 2013, and won a fourth Bathurst alongside Shane van Gisbergen last year.

"That was awesome,” Tander beamed after the 2011 race.

"The car was so good and everyone did an absolutely fantastic job.

"There was a lot of pressure and a lot of people saying [Percat] didn’t have enough experience but I had absolute faith in him and Nick did a great job.”

Percat added: "I knew what the car was like at the end of its tyres but Garth did it.

"All the boys on the radio kept me calm and settled me down and I pressed on.”

The 2021 Repco Supercars Championship and Dunlop Series seasons will conclude at the Repco Bathurst 1000.

Every session of the event will be broadcast live on Foxtel (Fox Sports 503) and streamed on Kayo.

The Seven Network will provide live free to air coverage of the event. Tickets for the event and camping are on sale now.

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