The inaugural winner of the Hamilton event in 2008, Tander is fired up to keep his championship fight back on track
Toll Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander is looking to continue his V8 Supercar form this weekend in the ITM400 in Hamilton, New Zealand.
After a tough opening two events in the Middle East, the 2007 V8 Supercar champion has stormed back into form with two victories in Adelaide plus two more in the non-championship races at the Australian F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne.
“We were written off the first couple of races in the Middle East when some said we were hopeless and had no chance, and we came straight back at Adelaide and blew them all away,” says Tander.
“Then to go to the Grand Prix and continue that form, even though it was not a championship event, was very satisfying. We had a great run at Hamilton in 2008 and we hope to continue with our current form there this year.
“The championship is a long year. Here we are in April and there’s still a long way to go.
“Yes, we are 11th, yes we’ve closed the ground to the leaders in the points, but we are under no illusions to it being anything but a long year for us to fight ourselves back into championship contention.
“We expect by Bathurst we’ll be back to where we need to be and ensure we have a strong back half to the season.”
Tander won all three races in Hamilton in 2008 and draws comparisons between it and Adelaide, where he won both races to make himself the only driver eligible this year to win V8 Supercar racing’s $2 million ‘Grand Slam’.
“It’s a narrow track, quite bumpy, with aggressive kerbs and close walls – everything that street events are all about Hamilton’s got,” he says.
“The crowds are nice and close to the action too, so it’s a real cauldron-like atmosphere.
“Success in Hamilton is all about being smart. It’s a track that’s hard on the cars, hard on drivers. Two 200-kilometre races around that track makes for a tough event.
“Being smart, staying out of trouble, keeping the car off the kerbs, keeping the car off the walls and ultimately having a fast car – if you tick all those boxes, ultimately you will be somewhere up the front.”
V8 standings so far:
1 Jamie Whincup 771
2 Mark Winterbottom 714
3 James Courtney 696
4 Shane van Gisbergen 630
5 Lee Holdsworth 573
6 Craig Lowndes 552
7 Rick Kelly 530
8 Paul Dumbrell 489
9 Michael Caruso 462
10 Steven Johnson 455
Greg Murphy is 29th with 96 points