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How Grove Racing got its man

IT was at a go-kart track that the wheels were set in motion for one of the biggest co-driver shock signings in recent memory.

There, Garth Tander got chatting with his 2021 Bathurst 1000 race engineer David Cauchi, who is now team principal at Grove Racing.

Soon enough, Tander was dropping a bombshell that he had rejected a Triple Eight extension in favour of the rising Penrite-backed Ford squad.

Tander’s nine-year-old son Sebastian was simultaneously announced as joining the Grove Junior Team alongside Oscar Targett and Mika LeMasurier.

“It was reasonably quickly (that it came together),” Tander told V8 Sleuth.

“It wasn’t days, it was certainly longer than that, but it came about in a timely manner.

“It was actually after a go-kart meeting that Cauchi came out and had a look at where a couple of the other Grove Junior drivers were at, both Oscar and Mika were racing, and he saw that we were there.

Garth Tander with Grove Racing team principal David Cauchi. Pic: Supplied

“We had a chat at the time just about karting and stuff and then he just asked what we were doing with Sebastian… they were going to sign Sebastian regardless of what I did, and that’s where it started and then it moved from there.”

Even if their Grove deals were not necessarily intertwined, Tander and his son are excited to be on the journey together.

“At the end of the day, he’s only nine and just starting, but when I explained it to him, he thought it was going to be super cool,” said the five-time Bathurst 1000 winner.

“It’s a really good opportunity for him. I mean obviously I’m involved heavily with all of his stuff and Scarlett’s stuff, but obviously Sebastian takes it a lot more seriously.

“When he heard that he was going to spend some time within the race team and learning about how big race teams operate and then obviously getting the opportunity to learn from Mika and Oscar and Matt (Payne) and Dave (Reynolds) and other people within the organisation, he was rapt.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for him and obviously he’s hearing things from someone other than his Dad.”

The Sandown 500 next September will be Tander’s first Supercars race in anything other than a Holden.

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