Garth Tander is looking forward to the challenge of reacclimatising to the Audi R8 GT3 in today’s practice as he bids to help the German marque ends its Bathurst 12 Hour drought.
Tander lines up in the Jamec-Pem Audi team for the third straight year, this time co-driving with Bathurst rookies Kelvin van der Line and Fredrick Vervisch.
The #22 Audi is one of several in the field that mixes local Supercars talent and internationally-sourced factory drivers.
While his co-drivers are first-time Bathurst starters but know the Audis intimately, Tander’s task is to share his extensive track knowledge while re-adjusting to the GT3 machinery.
“Being able to compare different drivers with different experience and skill sets is why I really enjoy doing this race,” Tander told Supercars.com.
“Certainly in the first part of the weekend, with the track walk we’ve done already and the first couple of sessions, [the co-drivers] will be able to learn from me.
“But they know the capabilities of the car so much better than I do, I think they’ll be up to speed quicker than me.
“In these cars, the track is not a big deal for them. If they were coming and driving a Supercar here for the first time, that’s a much tougher ask.
The #22 Audi that Tander will co-drive
“These cars are very different to a Supercar and how you drive it and get the most out of it is a challenge.
“Fred and Kelvin know what the limits of the car is and they can just come in and apply that to the circuit.”
Tander hopes that cooler conditions forecast for this weekend will help the Audis, which traditionally struggle in a straightline at Bathurst.
The marque took out the first two Bathurst 12 Hours held to GT3 rules in 2011 and ’12, but have not tasted victory since.
“It’s a unique event [for Supercars drivers]. Each car has its own strengths and weaknesses, you know that going into the race,” continued Tander.
“I think that’s probably why you see a lot of Supercars drivers coming and doing this race.
“We know in our racing, the cars are very identical, it’s all about maximising little millimetres that we’re all trying to do, all in the same place on the lap.
“Here you’re just working on your own car and working on your own performance and you just hope it’s better than everyone else.
“Then you go out and you race and everyone is a little bit different. You know the Audi is going to be quick across the top, but then others are better in a straightline.”
The eight-strong Audi line-up
Audi has the most entries of any marque in the race with eight, spearheaded by the two local Jamec-Pem cars and the two entries from Belgian squad WRT.
Jamec-Pem’s second car is filled with factory aces Christopher Mies, Christopher Haase and Markus Winkelhok, while WRT has one car in the Pro class and one in Pro-Am.
“We’ll probably come more into our own in the second half of the race if we can get ourselves into that phase,” said Tander, whose entry is being run by Tickford Racing engineer Adam De Borre.
“Our other car will be on the money straight away, qualifying wise and the start of the race, so we’ll be the tortoise rather than the hare.”