LEANNE TANDER THE EASTERN CREEK FORMULA 3 QUEEN OF COMEBACKS If the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship awarded a prize for the biggest comeback of the season, Fleetcare TanderSport driver Leanne Tander would be just about a...
LEANNE TANDER THE EASTERN CREEK FORMULA 3 QUEEN OF COMEBACKS
If the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship awarded a prize for the biggest comeback of the season, Fleetcare TanderSport driver Leanne Tander would be just about a lock-in for the award despite having just one round in the books.
Tander bounced back not once, but twice from adversity at Eastern Creek Raceway at the weekend to score a solid haul of championship points in the opening round of the 2007 championship.
Leanne lived up to the pre-season hype that suggested she would be a championship contender with some impressively quick performances at the 3.9km Eastern Creek circuit last weekend, and has taken confidence from the strong fashion in which she rebounded from dramas out of her control in both 13-lap races.
Leanne has left the first of eight rounds sitting fourth in the championship standings well within striking distance of the leading bunch.
The 25-year-old Melbourne based driver scored a sixth place finish in race one and a strong fourth in the second race, but the results could have been higher had she not have had to work her way from the back of the field in each race after being innocently involved in other drivers' accidents.
In race one the #42 Fleetcare Dallara was forced off the circuit on the first lap when two other drivers collided in the run to turn two.
Avoiding damage and being stuck in the sand trap, Tander recovered behind the safety car in 15th position before cutting her way through in a storming drive to her eventual finishing position of sixth place.
In the second race Leanne was forced to run three wide on the outside of the circuit, on a lap four restart.
This incident again saw the TanderSport entry out in the dirt and relegated to seventh place. Leanne then once again drove tenaciously to pass both Marco Mapelli and race one winner Stuart Kostera to work forward to fourth position.
The two results saw 16 points credited to the TanderSport championship points balance after the first of eight rounds.
These on-track dramas came after Leanne posted a superb performance in both qualifying sessions.
The #42 car started race one third -- less than one-tenth of a second behind pole, and the second race in fifth place, again less than 1/10th from the front row.
"It definitely wasn't the result that I had in mind, but it wasn't a complete failure like it could have been," an upbeat Tander said following the second race.
"I'm in a positive frame of mind. It could have been much worse than it really was and we were able to make a good comeback in both races. We also showed that the car is very quick and competitive with the rest of the leading drivers this year.
"I was pretty fortunate in a couple of ways," She added.
"When I was hit off at turn two of race one I was lucky that there wasn't any damage and also that the Safety car came out straight away. I was able to minimize the time lost and didn't loose a lap.
"There were a couple of times where I could have been hit by other cars but we managed to avoid any damage, catch up to the guys in front and pass a couple to score some points."
And whilst the weekend was a strong recovery from a potentially worse situation, Leanne said that taking just 16 points from the first round of the championship was a bitter pill to swallow.
"The major downside is that even though I was able to score some points, I'm really now on the back foot as far as the championship goes," she explained.
"Now we have to work even harder in the next few rounds to claw the margin back."
Fleetcare TanderSport will next be in action for one of the team's key home events -- the non-championship 2007 FORMULA 1 ^Ù ING Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, in Melbourne.
TanderSport thank the ongoing support of their sponsors Fleetcare, HSV, Holden, Greenwood & Freehills, Valvoline, Web105.com.au and My105.com