Return to the Mountain

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 21/09/2015
  • By Kassie Gadeke

Garth Tander will tackle the Mountain with an exciting new livery on his Holden Racing Team Commodore this year. And while the car he will race the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 with is the chassis that crashed spectacularly last year, the three-time 1000 winner says it's practically all new, after the work the HRT crew put in to rebuild the chassis.

He admitted it was ironic, but wasn't superstitious about the car's return to Mount Panorama next month.

"Yeah, it's same car," Tander told v8supercars.com.au.

"It's funny - it's got the same chassis number, chassis 21, but realistically only about 30 per cent of the metal in this car was in the car at Bathurst.

"So even though it's got the same chassis number, it's basically an all new car. It's a little bit ironic but not really something to think about."

Tander has been steering the repaired car since Sydney Motorsport Park this year - where it debuted as brand new in 2014.
And this year, running a cool Star Wars inspired theme, the HRT driver is hoping he and co-driver Warren Luff can conquer their combatants at the year's biggest race.

https://twitter.com/GarthTander/status/645766699292209152

Luff was behind the wheel last year when a brake issue saw the #2 roll at turn two. Craig Lowndes' #888 was tagged and damaged in the incident, but the Red Bull crew was able to do something HRT couldn't - repair and have Lowndes ready for that afternoon's ARMOR ALL Top 10 Shootout and the 1000km race.

Tander and Luff were forced to withdraw with such significant damage, and while teammates James Courtney and Greg Murphy were considered one of the favourites, ultimately they had no luck in the big one with electrical gremlins affecting #22.

It was a tough end to what had been a mammoth weekend - but Tander is hopeful of more positive results this time around, after finishing fourth at Sandown and seeing all four Walkinshaw Racing Commodores in the top 10 at the 500km classic.

"A pretty disappointing campaign all round at Bathurst for HRT [last year] - but you don't think about those things now, you can't think about it," Tander said.

"You just focus on your preparation leading into this year's event and making sure we do a better job this year."

Before the drama of the Saturday morning practice crash, Tander had an accident during Thursday practice at the top of the mountain, which pushed the crew to repair the car overnight. He then qualified ninth on Friday.

"The boys did an awesome job to basically do an all-nighter to get it ready for Friday," Tander reflected.

"That got us back in the shootout - we [qualified for] the shootout but never got the chance to take our place in it - and we obviously had the disappointment of not starting the race at all."

Tander has been one to watch in the longer races this season. While he - and the other three Walkinshaw Racing drivers - struggled with qualifying pace for most of the season, Tander finds a way to push through the field and is renowned as a hard racer.

He and Luff are a real shot at Mount Panorama next month - especially if they can start closer to the front.

"We struggled early in the weekend [at Sandown] but the guys did a really good job in the race with economy, strategy, our car speed was pretty reasonable at the end," Tander said.

"There's a couple of things we need to continue to improve. The main thing is we need to roll the car out of the truck a little bit closer to the money in practice - which is something everyone strives to do.

"It's not due to lack of effort and trying that we're not where we need to be, but if we can get a bit closer to the action a bit earlier in the weekend it makes life a lot easier."

Tander sits sixth in the Championship points and 581 away from leader Mark Winterbottom.

Courtney remains in the top 10 in ninth, but is touch and go for a Bathurst return after a freak accident at Sydney Motorsport Park that left him with five broken ribs.

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