GRM moves further up Pit lane for 2017. Image: Virgin Australia Supercars.
GARTH TANDER is a genuine Superstar of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
He wasn’t always the darling of the sport. His swashbuckling tactics in the early days following his entry to the category in 1998 drew the ire of many of the guys he pitted his skills against.
But the impetuousness of youth slowly dissipated allowing his real talent to emerge. And come to the fore, slowly gaining the respect of his fellows.
Winning one of the world’s great races – the legendary Bathurst 1000 – does that. Doing it three times adds another dimension. The first was the FAI 1000 in 2000 with Team GRM and Jason Bargwanna, then with the Holden Racing Team in 2009 alongside Will Davison and again in 2011 with Nick Percat.
GRM confirmed last month it had brought GT back to the future – and Dandenong – to replace Scott McLaughlin, who ended his four-year stint to join DJR Team Penske and fellow New Zealander Fabian Coulthard for 2017.
Tander’s Move to GRM is “Really Cool”
GT began his career in V8 Supercars with Garry Rogers. The Perth champion driver stayed until the end of 2004, before joining the Walkinshaw group to race for the HSV Dealer Team and HRT.
McLaughlin reckons his replacement’s move is “really cool”.
“I was joking with Garry last year about Tander coming back when that idea surfaced, and it’s quite funny how things worked out.
“Garth is one of the best racers out there, he’s a strong addition to GRM and it’s pretty special for the team to have the guy that did so much for them in the early years come back. It’ll be good for the team – they’ll be threats for sure.”
McLaughlin helped GRM back to the front of the 2017 Pit Pack finishing third in last year’s Supercars Championship – the best since Tander in 2000. The 23-year-old Kiwi ended GRM’s three-year long race win drought, with eight victories since he arrived in 2013.
Perth Supercars Champ Has High Hopes
GT turns 40 in March and has high hopes of another serious shot at the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
He won the V8 Supercars Championship for the HSV Dealer Team in 2007.
Last month he wrapped up his factory Holden career at the Coates Hire Sydney 500 in fine shape with two second places and a pole position.
He returns to Garry Rogers Motorsport on a two-year deal, but expects to extend that by becoming more involved in young driver and business development.
“It is a great story with a very real romance attached to it, but the very real stats of GRM’s performance over the last couple of years make it a very favourable destination to be heading,” he said.
GT won’t get his first taste of his new Supercar ride until the February test session.
Edited by AC.