Cursed Commodore? Holden V8 Supercar with a chequered past for sale
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A race team selling an old car isn't particularly newsworthy in of itself. And that's especially true over the ditch in the world of the Supercars Championship.
The timeline of a Supercar tends to go like this. The car gets built, it races with incremental updates over time as the sport evolves and cars get faster, then when the next body-shape or model generation gets rolled out it either gets pushed to the back of the shop, sold off to a team in either of the Supercars development series', or torn apart and rebuilt as the new model.
On the surface of it then, Walkinshaw Andretti United's decision to sell off chassis number 'WR 021' is a pretty standard piece of news. The Holden VF Commodore, last raced in mid-2017, is up for auction online on Lloyds Auctioneers and Valuers. The auction closes in a week's time. Nothing weird about that.
Chassis WR 021 hit the track at what proved to be a time of involuntary transition for the Clayton team. Despite having a star-studded driver line-up and an incredibly rich history, they were about to go from frequent championship contenders to battlers embedded in the mid-pack.
It was a successful car early. With Garth Tander and Warren Luff at the helm it was a PIRTEK Enduro Cup title winner in 2015; a crown that included a podium at Bathurst. But, there were a few big dips too. Like at Bathurst in 2014, when a brake failure saw it spear backwards at high speed into the Triple Eight entry of — ironically — Luff, during a practice session.
At the same time, James Courtney's recruitment to the Walkinshaw fold had been under the spotlight for its lack of delivery. It didn't help that saddened Ford fans were wanting blood too, given that Courtney had been lured away from the blue oval after delivering the brand a memorable championship crown in 2010.
Courtney's lack of results was reflected by Tander in 2016 with WR 021. Together they only scored one single podium in the first half of the season, with 10 finishes outside the top 10 before the chassis was parked in July. Tander immediately performed with a pair of confident top 10s and then a barnstorming Sandown 500 win. He would've probably won at Bathurst, too, had it not been for the crazed, famed incident at The Chase with Scott McLaughlin and Jamie Whincup.
And, in between Sandown and Bathurst — despite winning the former — Tander was let go by the team. The poor results with WR 021 had taken their toll.
“There is no balance with that car,” Tander later told Speedcafe when the car was replaced (and before getting axed). “When you set it up the same as James’ car it behaves completely different.
“We ended up with two very different cars at the weekend and it shouldn’t be happening. I won’t be using this chassis for the next race that is for sure.
“I have never had to change the chassis because of a drama, but this is the Bathurst crash car. It has been repaired alright but there is some weird behaviour that this car does. With the field being as competitive as it is you can’t afford to have that. Hopefully a change of chassis is as good as a holiday.”
The chassis change worked. And, he even got that holiday too. Kinda.
WR 021 was a spare car for almost a year before James Courtney had to use it at Barbagallo Raceway, finishing an atrocious 17th and 22nd across the two races. “Maybe Garth was right and maybe that car is possessed,” he later said. “Maybe someone here can come and perform an exorcism on it.”
Is WR 021 cursed? Well ... probably not. Truth be told, its sister chassis — WR 022 — didn't accomplish a hell of a lot either in its time. But, at the very least, it's the chassis that lives at the core of Walkinshaw Andretti United's fall from Supercars grace.