The 2015 V8 Supercars Championship draws to a close next weekend with the seventh running of the Coates Hire Sydney 500.
Today on Saturday Sleuthing we’re taking a closer look at the car that won the first-ever V8 Supercar race on the streets of Sydney Olympic Park back in 2009 – Garth Tander’s #2 Holden Racing Team VE Commodore.
The first trip to a new circuit always brings with it many unknowns. Yet, after Race 1 at Sydney’s challenging new street circuit in 2009, at least the V8 drivers knew one thing for sure - they were in for a physically tough weekend!
Tander wasn’t feeling quite as battered as many, having taken the win in the 74-lapper that comprised the first race of the inaugural Sydney 500.
Starting from pole, Tander led to the first pit stop, where a longer fuel fill cost him track position. Running third, he narrowly avoided disaster when leader Lee Holdsworth buried his Valvoline/GRM Commodore in the barrier at the chicane.
Tander was lucky to avoid the carnage and after the restart grabbed a lead that he was able to maintain to the finish to take the win.
The win helped HRT take a step closer to securing the 2009 Team’s Championship, which it ultimately claimed on the Sunday.
However, Tander had used up all of his luck avoiding errant GRM cars the day prior – he was eliminated from Race 2 in a turn one dispute with Holdsworth’s teammate Michael Caruso in the sister Valvoline Commodore.
That left Tander third in the Driver’s Championship as Jamie Whincup collected his second straight crown and Will Davison finished runner-up for HRT.
Tander’s Sydney-winning car – chassis Walkinshaw Racing 007 - had actually started its racing life the previous season in 2008.
At the time Tander was the reigning V8 Supercars Champion having won the title with sister squad the Toll HSV Dealer Team the previous year.
He brought the coveted #1 racing number with him to HRT and rolled it onto the side of his brand new car and debuted it at the Clipsal 500.
Tander and WR 007 had a successful season in 2008 and together they took eight race wins and round wins at Hamilton, Winton and the L&H 500 at Phillip Island with Mark Skaife in 2008.
The latter was in fact Skaife’s last win for the HRT after an illustrious career at the factory Holden team.
The duo also shared the car at Bathurst where it featured a special ‘60th Anniversary of Holden’ livery. Tander took pole but stalled the car on the line and fell to 24th place.
Despite a 10-second hold penalty for the jump-start, Tander and Skaife had recovered to be in contention for the lead until Skaife crashed at Forrests Elbow. The car was patched back together and they soldiered on to finish 12th, one lap down.
Tander finished off the season with a round win at Oran Park.
He retained the car for the 2009 season, taking four race wins in the car now running as #2. His regular chassis became #22 for the endurance races with Paul Dumbrell and Craig Baird at the helm.
Tander again retained the car for the 2010 season, using it to win his second Clipsal 500. He had his last race in the chassis at Winton before it was passed within the Walkinshaw Racing family to become Fabian Coulthard’s #24 Bundaberg Red Commodore from Hidden Valley onwards.
Coulthard raced 007 up to Bathurst where it was involved in a spectacular first lap rollover at the Chase when a tyre blew. The car was so badly damaged at the Mountain that it didn’t race for the remainder of the year – or any others after it!
Walkinshaw Racing repaired the chassis but its racing days were done.
In 2011 it still travelled to V8 Supercar rounds as the ‘King Gee Pitstop Challenge’ car. Presented in the same livery as Fabian Coulthard’s #61 Bundaberg Commodore, the car travelled around the country to key V8 Supercar events as a display where fans used it to test out their pit stop and tyre changing skills.
Later the car was used in the 2012 Bathurst telecast in the ‘Dick Smith Tech Centre’. Presented as Russell Ingall’s Supercheap Auto car, WR 007 was used throughout the coverage to give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at components and car technology during the telecast.
In 2013 the car was sold to former HRT new car build chief Rick Wyatt, who plans to restore the car back to its 2008 HRT Bathurst specification.
“For me it’s a special car that has a significant history with HRT,” Wyatt told our V8 Sleuth.
“It’s got lots of race wins for Garth and that Bathurst pole is special, even though the race didn’t go to plan. It was also the car Skaifey took his last win for the team in.
“The 60th Anniversary celebration livery also makes the car that little bit more unique.”
Saturday Sleuthing will take a break next weekend for the Coates Hire Sydney 500, but the V8 Sleuth will be back the following week to deck-the-halls with a couple of final pre-Christmas stories for the festive season.
If there’s a car you’d like to see featured in an upcoming story you can get in touch with the V8 Sleuth via any of the following methods: