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Tander opens up on Ford switch

GARTH Tander’s extraordinary run as a one-make driver did not enter his calculations when weighing up a shock switch to Ford’s Grove Racing for 2023.

All 642 of Tander’s Supercars Championship starts to date have come in Holden machinery – not to mention a further 68 non-championship races all being with the Lion.

But that streak will end come the Sandown 500 next September, when he will partner either David Reynolds or Matt Payne in a Gen3 Mustang.

“There’s been a lot of chat about that, but to be honest that wasn’t even really a consideration,” Tander told V8 Sleuth.

“It was more about my role with the team, obviously the co-driving role but also the role with the team mentoring Matt and then helping shape what the Grove Junior Team is going to look like.

“You get a lot of social media feedback, clearly, and a lot of it is centred around that I’ve walked out on Holden and all the rest of it, but the reality is you can’t stay loyal to something that doesn’t exist anymore.”

Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander lift the Peter Brock Trophy after winning the 2022 Repco Bathurst 1000. Pic: Nathan Wong

Holden, of course, has now been retired from the main game, replaced by the new Chevrolet Camaro for next season.

“I still feel very honoured and very proud that I won my last race in a Holden at Bathurst, and I got to drive a Holden product for the entirety of my Supercars career that Holden were involved in Supercars,” Tander continued.

“The whole switching brands wasn’t front of mind for me, it was more about the opportunity to join Grove.”

MORE: Tander’s road from Ford to Holden

MORE: Whincup’s reaction to Tander exit

The 45-year-old said retirement never crossed his mind, as he now prepares to reunite with a trio of his former race engineers: Alistair McVean, Grant McPherson and David Cauchi.

McVean worked with Tander at the Holden Racing Team and was his race engineer in 2011 when he and Nick Percat conquered The Mountain.

During his time co-driving with Shane van Gisbergen at Triple Eight Race Engineering, Tander worked with both McPherson (including winning the 2020 Great Race) and Cauchi, who are now technical director and team principal respectively at Grove Racing.

That brainpower, combined with the Gen3 reset, has him optimistic a sixth Bathurst crown is within reach – and equally that the Groves can become a match for the likes of Triple Eight before long.

“Certainly I have been very impressed with the vision of the team and the ambition of the team and the effort that is going to go in to attempt to get the team to where they want it to be and that’s what got my attention,” he said.

“The opportunity to be a part of that is exciting.

“I don’t feel like there’s many organisations in Australian motorsport that have the capability and the ambition and the drive to try to have a crack the way that they’re going to have a crack, so that’s what is exciting for me.”

Tander’s departure from Triple Eight leaves an intriguing vacancy next to van Gisbergen for the 2023 Sandown 500 and Repco Bathurst 1000, with Richie Stanaway among the early favourites.

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