Local boy Garth Tander hopes to make a big charge at the leader board when he returns home for this weekend's fifth round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at Barbagallo Raceway in Perth. Former Bathurst winner Tander is sitting in 10th ...
Local boy Garth Tander hopes to make a big charge at the leader board when he returns home for this weekend's fifth round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at Barbagallo Raceway in Perth.
Former Bathurst winner Tander is sitting in 10th position in the world's most competitive touring car series and is far from being out of championship contention. He is also racing on a track in his own back yard that feels very comfortable under his Holden Commodore.
Tander believes the Perth event could really break the championship wide open. With that in mind he hopes he is the one to benefit the most.
"There are certainly three or four blokes at the top of the field who have made a break on the rest of us at the start of the season," former Bathurst winner Tander said.
"In saying that those in the rest of the field have probably had at least one bad round while those at the top haven't -- as yet. Once they do, and it's probably inevitable, the championship will open right up again.
"And there's every chance that will happen sooner rather than later so we have to keep up the pace. The long distance events at Bathurst and Sandown will creep up on us quickly and that's where anything can happen."
Tander was 21 when he left Perth for Melbourne to join the Garry Rogers Motorsport team in 1998. His loyalty and the faith of the team mean that six years later he is still there.
In a championship that has had a different winner in every event this year, Tander believes there is nothing stopping someone of his ability winning a few races in a row and charging up the competition table.
His Garry Rogers Motorsport Holden has already had one third placing this year at Eastern Creek in the second round. Week by week Tander feels as though he and the team are making improvements.
Had he not crashed in practice before the final race in the opening round in Adelaide, Tander could be flying as high as fifth. But he recognises that every team will have its good and bad days -- that's exactly what is keeping his hopes high.
What also gives Tander great confidence is that he was able to convert his best opportunity of the year into a third place at Eastern Creek.
"The crash in Adelaide was a big setback that makes for a long year but we know that we can make the most of our opportunities when they present themselves," he said.
Tander has gelled extremely well with team-mate Cameron McConville since joining up this year. McConville came from the Lansvale Racing Team last year.
It's Tander's ultimate goal to have a two-car force like Stone Brothers Racing or the Holden racing Team that are consistently challenging the front of the field. This breeds team confidence and in turn performance.
"We have two really dedicated and hard-working blokes as drivers that have the experience to be very competitive," he said.
"As drivers we are always confident that we are going to perform. Sometimes subconsciously you still find yourself checking where the Stone Brothers, PWR or HRT cars are during a race because they are the benchmark.
"At the moment we are not being viewed in the same light but that's not to say we can't be sometime down the track."
With a newly resurfaced Perth and history of close racing Perth looms as what could be a make or break event.
There is sure to be plenty of bumping and grinding, especially given that all drivers stood up in the most aggressive round of the season in Darwin just three weeks ago.
Castrol Perkins' Steven Richards is out to build on his lead while current champion Marcos Ambrose want to right a damaging error in Darwin when his crew allowed a loose wheel to roll into the fast lane in the pits, costing Ambrose a front position.
It will be a critical weekend for the top five in that any one could assume the championship lead. There may also well be quite a shift within the next 10 or so places as drivers try to squeeze into the top 10 for a shot at the leaders.