Having narrowly missed out on the 2008 Kumho Tyres Australian F3 title at the season finale in Tasmania, TanderSport hit the track early in 2009, with Ben Crighton providing a positive start to the year for the team.
The Kiwi left a recent test at Winton Raceway feeling more optimistic than ever about the season ahead, having taken over the seat previously occupied by owner-driver Leanne Tander. The now #52 Dallara-Mercedes F307 turned a wheel for the first time since a Mallala test late in 2008, giving the team a first real opportunity, not only to field the rebuilt and re-liveried car, but also get to grips with Crighton's requirements behind the wheel.
“From the outset, our main focus was getting me back up to speed after a few months off, and then working on the chassis to get a base set-up for the round in June,” the youngster said, “We achieved everything that we had planned to, and found more pace every time we left the garage. On top of this, the car ran faultlessly all day. A big thanks to the team for preparing a fantastic looking car, and I can't wait to hit the track again in March.
“Looking at the season ahead, we need ensure that no opportunities to get points are lost - it is a long season and so much can happen! I have set my goals for the season and with TanderSport behind me, so I see no reason why these can't be achieved.”
In a highly productive day, the team completed several runs designed not only to ease the New Zealander back into the hot seat, but also to accumulate data for Australian F3's return to the track this June.
“Ben was straight back up to speed, which was impressive given the long off-season,” co-owner and V8 frontrunner Garth Tander confirmed, “He was straight on the money and it's probably the best I have ever seen him drive an F3 car.
"We didn't have a focus on ultimate lap times as we hadn't run the F307 chassis [at Winton] before, so we focused on set-up work and getting the car ready for the round of the championship there later this year. It was highly productive and a very good day overall. I think Ben will surprise some people this year.”
The Tandersport team will unveil a brand new livery ahead of the season–opening Clipsal 500 Adelaide in March, and the car's previous incumbent reckons that it will be a frontrunner to land the series' latest prize offering.
“We have a great looking new paint scheme on the car this year – we want to win the brand new 'Best Presented' award from Meguiar's that has been implemented for this year,” Leanne Tander said, “By all accounts, Ben did a fantastic job at the test and we're all looking forward to working with him again this year. There is a lot of positive energy around the team at the moment and we can't wait for the first round."