After 642 race starts with Holden, Australian racing veteran Garth Tander is switching forces, signing with Ford’s Penrite Racing. He’ll race with their subsidiary Grove Racing as an endurance race co-driver for the returning Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000.
The signing is a massive coup for Grove Racing, Tander’s career full of success even following his departure from full-time racing in 2018. He’s won The Great Race five times including twice with Shane van Gisbergen (2020 and 2022). He also won the Drivers Championship in 2007 and has crossed the line first in 57 different races.
Although his prime days are debatably behind him, Tander brings a wealth of knowledge and skill to his role. That will be of benefit to Kiwi Matt Payne who is racing for the outfit next year. It’s expected Tander will take on a mentor-like role for the youngster.
His departure leaves a top level vacancy at Red Bull which will be a role sought by many: Van Gisbergen’s co-driver.
Despite the news of Tander’s departure only coming through today, a number of names are being thrown around as to who the Kiwi champion will partner at Sandown and Bathurst next year.
It’s a waiting game to see who that driver will be with the enduros some 10 months away but New Zealand drivers seem to be the most requested by fans in a post made by van Gisbergen thanking Tander for his role.
Names like Nick Cassidy, Richie Stanaway, Earl Bamber, Scott Dixon and even former rival Scott McLaughlin are being thrown in the ring, each with their own validations and discredits.
Hayden Paddon also commented, a tongue-in-cheek offer of his services in exchange for van Gisbergen’s in a rally.
One such name, however, does prove an exciting prospect is Red Bull’s F1 third driver, Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian made his intentions clear about wanting a Bathurst drive earlier this year. He won’t be on the F1 grid full-time in 2023 and is signed again with Red Bull meaning the partnership could be a very real possibility.
Whilst the rumour-mill is sure to go into overdrive as to who will earn the coveted co-drive, Tander’s influence in getting the sport to where it is should not be forgotten.
As Holden’s Supercars era comes to an end it’s only fitting Tander jumps ship now, his allegiance to long-time rivals Ford or new kids on the block Chevrolet a decision that was surely not made lightly.