Tander: Holden Racing Team will only get better

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 05/07/2014
  • By V8 Supercars

The Holden Racing Team is back with Garth Tander declaring the Red Army will continue to improve under new team boss Adrian Burgess and be a thorn to the V8 Supercars Championship leaders.

As they did at the Castrol Townsville 500 - Driven by TAFE last year Tander and James Courtney scored a 1-2 finish, this time in the second of two races today. Current Champion Jamie Whincup took race one while his teammate Craig Lowndes had a shocker.

Whincup now threatens Championship leader Mark Winterbottom and his Pepsi Max FPR team, who made the most of two poor qualifying sessions, as he snuck quietly into second on the leader board.

After a cracking first race Tander and Courtney ultimately won the day backing up the recent confidence the team has gleaned with the poaching of Burgess from the Red Bull team.

"The proof is in the pudding, isn't it," Tander said.

"We have been turning the cars around, they have been getting better. We had a big upgrade prior to Darwin that improved the car considerably. Really good test prior to Darwin.

"The problem we've had this year is that there is simply not enough time between races to get everything on the car that we need to get on to the car. It's been taking time and the cars are probably a little different, setup wise, to what I've been used to over my career.

"It's probably taken me a little while to get my head around it. After that test and after Darwin I'm starting to feel more and more comfortable in the car. Like I said today, I've had some good cars here over the course of the event here, but that was easily the best car I've had here before."

It was Tander's first win since Phillip Island last year and the result makes him the first man outside the top 10 to win a race at the North Queensland street circuit.

Starting from eleventh on the grid, the HRT Commodore took a late pitstop and Tander found himself mixing the earlier leaders.

"That second one, the car was just awesome," he said.

"The plan was to pit early but everyone kept pitting in front of me giving me track position and my car just kept getting faster and faster, so we just stayed out and we managed to pit.

"There was a bit of a battle into turn three, but once that all settled itself my car was awesome - probably the best car I've ever had around here. We were cruising around in the end managing the gap to JC and looking after the car."

Lockwood Racing's Fabian Coulthard had the jump off the startline from ARMOR ALL Pole Position - and front-row Walkinshaw Racing stablemate Nick Percat ran with him until a slow pit stop buried him in the pack.

And while he reassumed the effective lead, a small mistake allowed Tander and Courtney to sail through and lead for the remainder of the 125km race.

Lowndes was the worst casualty of a crazy opening few laps in the first race as the entire field seemed to be more interested in a bash up derby - which certainly made for a race that brought the fans to their feet.

Four separate contacts on the first lap ultimately ended with the Red Bull Racing ace's Holden Commodore VF embedded in the tyre wall and no points added to his driver's Championship tally.

The immediate impact was his drop from second to third in the Championship behind leader Winterbottom and race winner Whincup, his RBRA teammate.

"I don't know what was going on," said Lowndes, who started from fifth grid position.

Qualifying tenth didn't stop Whincup in the first race despite the pandemonium off the startline.

Holden Racing Team's 1-2 qualifying effort didn't last long after contact between the teammates on the first lap - but it was Lowndes who also bought into the action, and came off worst.

Tander managed to maintain second and finish on the podium for the first time this season.

Will Davison also scored his first podium for the year, and first with Erebus Motorsport.

A best result for Nick Percat since joining V8 Supercars full-time finishing fourth, with Shane van Gisbergen, McLaughlin, Jason Bright, James Courtney, David Reynolds and Michael Caruso complete the top 10 in the opening race.

There will be one final 250km race around the Townsville circuit tomorrow, with qualifying and an ARMOR ALL Top 10 Shootout to determine the grid.

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