Insight Motorsport News

TANDER: SVG DRIVE ‘AS GOOD AS I’VE SEEN’

GARTH TANDER has seen or participated in his fair share of sensational Bathurst 1000 drives in his twenty three Great Race starts – but the now four-time winner says what Shane van Gisbergen achieved on Sunday was up there with the best ever.

WORDS: Richard Craill IMAGES: Mark Horsburgh / Supercars

The closing stages of the 2020 Great Race saw the flying Kiwi trade fastest laps with the pursing Cameron Waters in an intense conclusion to the 161-lap race, before then having to withstand two Safety Car restarts in the final 10 laps in order to claim victory.

“That’s as good as I’ve seen anyone manage those three stints of the race,” Tander told the On the Grid Podcast, available to download now.

“He managed the car, he managed Cam behind him, he managed the tyre he managed the whole thing as good as I’ve seen anyone do it.. And he got slightly better in each stint the way he managed it.”

The TV coverage showed a seemingly relaxed Tander in the garage during the final stint, the now 43-year-old driver saying he was absolutely caught up in the unfolding theatre in front of him.

“I actually found myself actually enjoying the spectacle of it all and how it was playing out and started really getting enthralled in the battle that was going on.  

“Cam was super-fast, if you go back and look at the last two pitstops of the race between the Red Bull guys and the Tickford guys, mate they were less than a tenth of a second apart in the pitstops between each other.

“So as far as intensity goes, as a battle between two drivers and then two teams truing obviously to come out on top at the mountain, that was.. I just started watching the race as a fan and just thinking ‘how cool is this’ before I thought ‘hang on a minute, I’ve got a bit of skin in the game in this one’.”

Tander also explained that he ensured to remind his co-driver to take in his nearly peerless drive on Sunday afternoon.

“I sent him a message on Tuesday morning, actually – and he’s not big for the whole Congratulations and the rest of it – but I just said ‘mate, you need to spend a bit of time and sit back and appreciate what you achieved on Sunday afternoon, because that’s as cool as it gets.”

Tander’s fourth Bathurst triumph saw the West Australian-born driver join a group of just twelve drivers to have won the race four or more times – his tally now equal with teammate Jamie Whincup, Bob Jane, Greg Murphy, Harry Fifth and Allan Moffat.

His victories have also come across a long period: 20 years between his first win in the year 2000 and his most recent.

It mirrors the career of his long-time friend Steven Richards, who saw 20 years between his first win in 1998 and fifth in 2018. Only Craig Lowndes (22 years between his first and seventh victories) and Jim Richards (24 years) have longer periods between their first and most recent Bathurst triumphs.

In another statistical oddity from the weekend, every position on the 2020 Great Race podium featured at least one driver with whom Tander had shared a prior Bathurst success with.

“So as far as intensity goes, as a battle between two drivers and then two teams truing obviously to come out on top at the mountain, that was.. I just started watching the race as a fan and just thinking ‘how cool is this’ before I thought ‘hang on a minute, I’ve got a bit of skin in the game in this one’.”

Having already finished second with van Gisbergen in 2019, Tander’s 2009 co-driver and winner Will Davison was second with Cameron Waters in the Monster Energy Ford.

Tander also finished third with Warren Luff in the 2015 race, the latter finishing in the same position this year alongside Chaz Mostert.

2020 marked Tander’s third victory and sixth podium in total representing the official factory Holden team at Mount Panorama in the 1000km race – though he also won and scored second in the pair of two Bathurst 24 Hour races driving the famous factory-backed, Garry Rogers Motorsport Holden Monaros.

“There’s been no master plan on my part that I was always going to be a Holden driver for the whole time – it’s just the way it played out,” Tander said of his now 23-year relationship with the Holden brand.

“When I first started driving for Garry in ’98 it was a Holden team and I got to know the Holden people though that period, people like John Stevenson, Simon McNamara, Gerald McDornan, John Elsworth, Peter Hanenberger who was the MD at the time.

“They were really, really good to me and really looked after me and they helped me – They helped me get to HSV Dealer Team and then I started working with Tom Walkinshaw and John Crennan and Ray Borrett and all those guys.

“I created some fantastic relationships. It’s been incredibly humbling to receive emails from people like Mark Reuss and Mike Devereaux that were previous MDs of Holden that have now moved up into very senior roles at GM.

“For them to reach out to say that they really appreciate what took place on Sunday is really humbling.”