Garth Tander says Garry Rogers Motorsport will be significantly better prepared for the start of next year's Supercars season than it was this year, thanks to a phase of development based around the new ZB Commodore.
GRM endured a disrupted off-season ahead of the 2017 season, having been forced into a last-minute switch to Holden hardware after losing the rights to continue using its Volvos after the factory deal came to an end.
While the team is building new cars again this time around, with a pair of new shells that will ultimately be skinned as the new ZB Commodore, lead driver Tander reckons the more traditional timeline means more focus can be on development.
"I was at work on Wednesday, and we've got two ZB shells finished," Tander told Motorsport.com.
"One is painted with the wiring loom and plumbing in it. Before Christmas we should have the whole car just waiting on panels from the aero test.
"To be where we are now, compared to where we were this stage last year, we're so much further down the road.
"The crew are getting on with building the cars, but the engineers have got a lot of development stuff going on. We never got the opportunity to do that last year. This year we were catching our breathe the whole year, with car builds, getting cars back to Sweden, rebuilding cars in the back half of the year, stuff like that.
"This time we can certainly start the year more organised than in 2017.
"We've got time to develop and change parts of the car. There were some parts in the car that [James Moffat] and I both struggled with and we never really got on top of, so we've now got some time to analyse that and come up with a few options to test before we go to Adelaide."
Satisfied with 2017 season
Despite the shaky build-up to the 2017 season, Tander enjoyed a remarkably competitive season that saw him finish up ninth in the points.
While admitting he would have happily taken a single digit championship position pre-season, Tander says his expectations changed as the season wore on, and he was left feeling a little deflated with his form from Bathurst onwards.
"I'm reasonably happy with it. We missed eighth in the championship by four points; I think if you'd asked me on January 1 if I'd take that, I would have said sure," said Tander.
"But our expectations changed midyear. We were probably going better than we expected in the first six months of the year, but then the Bathurst result was disappointing, and we probably didn't finish the year as strongly as we would have liked.
"If you think about [the late Holden switch] and what we achieved, we can be ecstatic as to how the year played out. But personally I'm just a bit disappointed that we didn't finish as strongly as we should have."
Golding a 'star of the future'
Tander will be paired with a brand new teammate for the 2018 season, with young gun James Golding replacing Moffat in the second GRM Holden.
Having shared a car with Golding during the endurance races this year, Tander is confident that the rookie will hit the ground running.
"His speed is fine. And having the wildcard races as well as the endurance races, he did five main game events this year," said Tander.
"That's a good lead-in to next year. But he'll quickly learn that the level is up, and you can't just keep it up for a few laps – it's got to be like that from the first lap in Adelaide until the last lap in Newcastle.
"We'll prepare him as well as we can, but until you experience it...
"All the other aspects, his fitness, his mental preparation, his integration into the team, his actual lap speed, all that stuff is good. Really really good.
"He'll be a star in the future for sure."