Confirmed: V8 refugee Tander pairs with Shane van Gisbergen for enduros
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Yesterday, the Supercars Championship world was shook by the surprise announcement that Richie Stanaway would join Garry Rogers Motorsport for the 2019 season — leaving three-time Bathurst 1000 winner Garth Tander without a ride for the first time since he joined the series in 1998.
The social media world in particular were quite fierce in their appraisal of the decision to replace Tander with a driver he had demolished in the 2018 season. Few of them noted the team's need to secure a new sponsor to replace Wilson Security, and the potential implications this could've had on driver line-up.
But while one thread of couch warriors feuded over the team's denial of any kind of Tander 'farewell tour' after a brilliant season, other commentors alluded to the mouth-watering prospect of Tander pairing up with Shane van Gisbergen at the Red Bull Holden Racing Team. And those who spent yesterday willing it to happen have today had their desires answered. It's confirmed; Tander and van Gisbergen will race together in the PIRTEK Enduro Cup.
“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," said Tander.
“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 teammates, Shane, Jamie [Whincup] and Craig [Lowndes].”
“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,” the veteran added.
“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 and Sandown. Whilst Shane and I haven’t shared the same car yet, we’ve been teammates 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!”
Tander is set to arguably be one of the strongest co-drivers on the grid when the PIRTEK Enduro Cup season kicks off at Bathurst in October. Unlike most others, he will approach the three-round season-within-a-season fresh from a full-time season. The only other driver to boast that stat is Craig Lowndes, who will pair up with Jamie Whincup in the Red Bull sister Commodore.
The veteran will be the fifth different co-driver that van Gisbergen will have raced with in the endurance season; following on from Jonathon Webb (2015), Alexandre Premat (2016), Matt Campbell (2017), and Earl Bamber at last year's season. Not that it's harmed van Gisbergen's chances of victory. Each year has seen him fighting for a strong result, with potential wins going begging in 2016 and 2017.