13 September 2009
Tander, Davison claim L&H 500 for Holden.
For the second year in succession, the Toll Holden Racing Team stole victory from the jaws of defeat in a head-to-head scrap with TeamVodafone at the L&H 500 at Phillip Island.
And, again, it was Garth Tander that seized the dramatic last lap victory after roughly 499km and three hours of edge-of-the-seat racing, doing to Craig Lowndes what he did to Jamie Whincup last year after the #888 car ran out of luck with its tyres on the last lap. The sweet victory was Tander's second straight at the Phillip Island endurance event, but the first for new team-mate Will Davison.
Ford Performance Racing's Steven Richards and Mark Winterbottom finished third, with the two Jim Beam Fords, of James Courtney/Steven Johnson and enduro squad members Jonathan Webb and Warren Luff rounding out the top five.
“With five laps to go, the boy said to just conserve fuel, we are going to get second,” Tander said, “Then, with three to go, they said 'go as hard as you can and see what happens'. Craig kept coming back to me, and I wondered if he was low on fuel as well, but then he started to slide around a bit and it was on.
“It was an amazing race. It was 500km absolutely flat out. I don't think there was ever more than two seconds between the two cars the whole way round. PI has been very kind to me in the past few years, but we will absolutely take it. I think we will go out and help the economy a little tonight.”
A nervous Davison watched it all unfold from the garage having done his job behind the wheel earlier in the race.
“We'd already had a chat and said second is not bad - we'll use it as a great platform for Bathurst," he revealed, "But, In this sport, you just never know. I nearly thought second was it.”
An initially devastated Lowndes had come to terms with the loss after he appeared to have run away with the race after he passed Tander on lap 98.
“It was a bit of a shame,” he said, “We were one lap short really. Now I know how Jamie feels, it is gut-wrenching.”
Winterbottom and Richards are also well placed going into next month's Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 with their continued form resurgence.
“It's a great relief,” Richards admitted, “FPR has been working really hard and now we are pushing all the right buttons. It gives us really good direction going to Bathurst. We should be really pleased with that result.”
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