Toll Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander claims that his outfit will continue as the leading 'Red Army' team after making a bold statement at its home track in the Norton 360 Sandown Challenge.
The 2007 V8 Supercar champion said he and team-mate Will Davison had proven that, despite the controversial switch of TeamVodafone to Holden in 2010, that his team would still make the running for the manufacturer.
Tander and Davison finished 1-2 in the feature race at Sandown, a day after the youngster had sealed a race win on Saturday and followed it up with a second Armor All Pole Position in as many days. That performance led Tander to respond to a question about the future position of HRT in V8 Supercars with a very direct answer.
“HRT has been the number one Holden team for the last couple of years and it will continue to be the number one Holden team going forward,” he said.
On the weekend that Holden announced its factory backing for another three years, and with Holden bosses Mark Ruess and incoming replacement Alan Batey at the event, it was a fitting payback by Tander and Davison.
Both Tander and Davison also firmly believe they can beat TeamVodafone's Jamie Whincup, who was third in race two, to this year's championship. Both drivers made up good ground on the points leader this weekend.
The Norton 360 event became a battle of strategy and tyres, as Tander got full advantage out of his softer Dunlop Sport Maxx Sprint tyres while Davison battled through on regulation Dunlops for a great result.
“Second was the absolute perfect race for me,” Davison admitted, “We had no soft tyres, had to fight pretty hard and lost out a little bit with a safety car. It was all going on there for a while.”
Whincup salvaged his weekend despite an uncharacteristic stumble in qualifying. Unfortunately, it was a day of backwards at the start for the reigning champion, who struggled in the mix of hard and soft tyres. He was lucky at one point to be on the track when he got completely swamped by half a dozen cars and shuffled back to eleventh. It undid a great starting line effort to make up several places from ninth, as he got mixed up in a front pack battle for places but was shuffled out of position along the way.