Garth Tander will pair with Shane van Gisbergen forthe 2019 Pirtek Enduro Cup …
STORY: WILL DALE
A DAY after it was revealed he had been replaced at Garry Rogers Motorsport, Garth Tander has been announced in a plum Pirtek Enduro Cup co-driver role.
The 41-year-old will pair with Shane van Gisbergen at the Red Bull Holden Racing Team, the duo set to serve as a formidable combination for at least the next two seasons.
“Triple Eight have clearly been the class team in Supercars for the best part of the last decade, their results speak for themselves,” Tander said.
“When the opportunity arose to join the team alongside Shane for the enduros it was clearly the best way for me to transition from a full-time driver to a co-driver in this next phase of my career.
“I’m really looking forward to joining the team, hopefully bringing some experience and speed along with me, but mostly looking forward to learning from my new teammates, Shane, Jamie and Craig.”
Both drivers have experienced success in the Enduro Cup, but the Kiwi is still winless in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
“Shane has come so close at the mountain a couple of times in the last few years, I’ve been close a few times in the last few years, so while the mountain doesn’t owe anyone anything, if you keep putting yourself up the front at that race, eventually the cards can fall your way,” Tander added.
“Between Shane and I, we will have a ton of experience and plenty of determination to conquer not only Mount Panorama, but also the GC600 and Sandown.
“Whilst Shane and I haven’t shared the same car yet, we’ve been teammates in Australian GT before, and already have a strong friendship and mutual respect. Ironically, it was Shane breathing down my neck when I won my last Supercars race at the Sandown 500 in 2016.
“I have always enjoyed racing against Shane, and the only downside I can see in this deal is that I don’t get to race against him on track anymore!”
Tander’s two-year deal puts an end to van Gisbergen’s streak of different co-drivers at Triple Eight, having had Alex Premat, Matt Campbell and Earl Bamber join him in each of the past three campaigns.
“As far as experience goes, there’s probably not many better drivers,” van Gisbergen said. “Craig is back driving with Jamie, which is fitting, and if you can’t have Craig then Garth is definitely the best person to have on your team.
“It’s pretty special to have someone of his calibre with multiple Bathurst wins. I haven’t won Bathurst yet, so he’s the best person to give me a shot at that. Someone of that experience who already has those achievements on his CV will be awesome to work alongside. Hopefully he can help me to finally win Bathurst!
“Having Garth in Australia and already having a good relationship, it’ll be pretty easy to work well together quickly,” he continued.
“All this year he’ll be coming to test days and races to integrate himself into the team as soon as possible and we’ll do everything we can to get him up to speed and learn the Triple Eight philosophy.
“Continuing my theme, it’s a shame not to have the same co-driver again. Earl did a stellar job, but being a factory Porsche driver, some of the big races on his calendar conflict with ours again. He did an amazing job for us last year.”
Triple Eight chief Roland Dane said it was an easy decision to sign Tander as van Gisbergen’s co-driver.
“As soon as we heard that Garth would be taking a step back from full-time driving, it made sense to find out whether he had any plans for the enduros locked in yet. It’s happened very quickly, but we’re extremely happy to be welcoming him to the team,” Dane said.
“On paper it will be a very good partnership. Shane and Garth are a similar height, Garth is obviously very experienced in not just a supercar but a Holden and they both know how to handle pressure when it matters the most.
“With Bathurst being the first enduro on this year’s calendar, we should be in a good position to come in as well prepared as possible.”