HE may not be a full-time member of the Supercars grid as he would have expected for this year’s Bathurst 1000, but make no mistake, Garth Tander will be a threat.
It is because the three-times Bathurst 1000 victor will share a seat with a man hungry to conquer Mount Panorama for the first time – Red Bull Racing’s Shane van Gisbergen.
The news of the endurance partnership comes a day after the shock Garry Rogers Motorsport dumping of Tander from a full-time seat for 2019, former Tickford driver Richie Stanaway replacing him.
So come October, there is no doubt the 41-year-old will be keen to prove a point at Mount Panorama.
“Shane has come so close at the mountain a couple of times in the last few years, I’ve been close a few times in the last few years, so while the mountain doesn’t owe anyone anything, if you keep putting yourself up the front at that race, eventually the cards can fall your way,” Tander said.
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“Triple Eight have clearly been the class team in Supercars for the best part of the last decade, their results speak for themselves.
“When the opportunity arose to join the team alongside Shane for the enduros it was clearly the best way for me to transition from a full-time driver to a co-driver in this next phase of my career.
“I’m really looking forward to joining the team, hopefully bringing some experience and speed along with me, but mostly looking forward to learning from my new team-mates, Shane, Jamie [Whincup] and Craig [Lowndes].”
Tander got his first start in the Bathurst 1000 in 1998 for Garry Rogers Motorsport and since then has gone on to notch up 20 Great Race starts.
The most recent of his three wins came in 2011 when sharing a Holden Racing Team Commodore with Nick Percat, while Tander also claimed the chequered flag in 2009 and 2000.
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Last year he placed sixth at the Mount with Chris Pither, that result helping him to rank 13th in the championship. His best 2018 result was a third in race two at Adelaide.
The Western Australian native, who won the 2007 Supercars championship, boasts a total of five Bathurst podiums while he has a career tally of 54 race wins.
He has a strong respect for van Gisbergen and is keen to see what the Endurance Cup – which this year begins in Bathurst – brings.
“Between Shane and I, we will have a ton of experience and plenty of determination to conquer not only Mount Panorama, but also the GC600 [Gold Coast] and Sandown,” he said.
“Whilst Shane and I haven’t shared the same car yet, we’ve been team-mates in Australian GT before, and already have a strong friendship and mutual respect.
“Ironically, it was Shane breathing down my neck when I won my last Supercars race at the Sandown 500 in 2016. I have always enjoyed racing against Shane, and the only downside I can see in this deal is that I don’t get to race against him on track anymore!”