Garth Tander insists he is still focused on defending his V8 Supercar Championship crown despite a tough weekend in the Gulf Air Desert 400 in Bahrain.

The Toll HRT driver saw his hopes take a hit in the opening race of the weekend when he was turned round by title rival Mark Winterbottom going into turn one.

Things didn't improve for the defending champion in race two or race three when he could only finish eleventh and 23rd - leaving him 15th overall for the round while Jamie Whincup took three wins to extend his lead over Tander in the standings to 292 points with just two rounds remaining.

"The championship is looking extremely tough and every race that goes by where you have a poor result makes it harder, but it's still mathematically possible," he said. "We're miles behind so we need to go into full attack mode. The next two tracks we're going to we've been very strong at the last two years, so we won't be giving up without a fight."

Things didn't get much better for team-mate Mark Skaife in his first race weekend since confirming he will retire at the end of the season.

After being caught up in an early accident in race one, he battled through to 17th in race two but was then forced out after another early coming together in race three.

"What can you say?" he said. "It was just a shocking weekend for the Toll Holden Racing Team! Our car speed was never anywhere near where we needed it to be and we weren't able to get it into the 'window' at any stage.

"These cars are so difficult when they're under gripped, so when you battle with them like we have here in Bahrain you're seriously not in the same race."