11 October 2009
Tander, Davison win Bathurst
Garth Tander survived mayhem at the end of six-plus hours of racing around the Mount Panorama circuit to return Holden to the top of the podium at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
The victory, by a matter of seconds over Jason Richards, allowed Toll HRT to complete the V8 Supercar enduro double after Tander and co-driver Will Davison claimed an equally-dramatic victory in the recent L&H 500 at Phillip Island. Holden swept the top four places in the final reckoning, with out-going champions Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes the best of the Fords in fifth spot.
A series of safety cars in the closing stages saw the order change with strategy, but Tander was in front when Tony Ricciardello went off with four laps to run. When the rescue crew did its work with alacrity, the field was released for two final laps of combat, but Tander controlled the restart to perfection, quickly opening out a couple of seconds' advantage as the chasing pack scrapped over the minor podium positions.
The biggest losers were Kelly brothers Todd and Rick, who saw second spot disappear in a flurry of passing moves that they were unable to defend against with an ailing Jack Daniel's Commodore, eventually dropping to eighth. Provisional polesitter Jason Richards was the first to push past the black machine, escaping into second as Lee Holdsworth took advantage of the move to further demote the Kellys. Richards managed to close on Tander on the run to the flag, but the former champion claimed victory by seven-tenths of a second after 161 laps and more than six hours of racing.
Veteran Greg Murphy, sensing an emotional podium return for himself and the 'unretired' Mark Skaife also pounced, closing rapidly on Holdsworth as third became a real possibility. The pair went side-by-side into the Chase, but Holdsworth prevailed, the GRM/Valvoline car also surviving the final lap to deny Murphy by just 0.004secs at the line.
Behind them, history was made to wait as Whincup and Lowndes had to settle for fifth in a race that could have provided a fourth successive triumph before rain arrived over the Mountain and then clutch problems intervened just as the 888 team's strategy benefited from the safety car spree. Whincup was also lucky to escape sanction for turning Jason Bargwanna around while duelling for a potential podium in the final 30 minutes, with both cars losing out to Richards and Holdsworth as they recovered.
Bargwanna chased Whincup across the line, while Paul Morris and Tim Slade also took advantage of the Kellys' problems to claim seventh, giving Slade leading rookie honours for 2009. Behind the #7 machine, Greg Ritter and Andrew Thompson completed the top ten.
Tander declared the prestigious Peter Brock Trophy back in its' 'traditional home' after another epic V8 battle ended a Lowndes and Whincup's three-year winning streak, preventing a record fourth, by holding out two rampant Kiwis and a pair of genuinely fast Aussie battlers to take the crown.
It was Tander's second win on the mountain, and the first for Davison, who joined HRT at the start of the year and is closing the gap on series leader Whincup in the run to the Sydney Telstra 500 in December.
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