Garth Tander and Toll Holden Racing Team partner Mark Skaife were both the victims of hard hits in the opening race of round twelve of the V8 Supercar Gulf Air Desert 400 in Bahrain.

Reigning champion Tander finished 14th after the #1 Commodore was turned around by Ford driver - and title rival - Mark Winterbottom, while Skaife was left fuming after being taken out by Jason Richards.

A disappointed Tander hit out at his rival following the race, in which Winterbottom had received a drive-through penalty for the ambitious move, and also expressed his disappointment at a number of early race incidents that left his Toll HRT Commodore looking battered and bruised.

Having earlier qualified fifth, Tander jumped to second at the start, but was bustled back to fifth in the typically frenetic opening stages. The #1 machine then lost further track position when Lee Holdsworth, Jason Bright and Paul Morris leap-frogged a large number of cars thanks to the appearance of the safety car while they were making their compulsory pit stops, and was sitting in eighth position when Winterbottom made a desperate lunge into turn one on lap 17.

"I haven't seen the vision but, from what I'm told, Winterbottom may have run out of brakes or something else... maybe ability," Tander fumed, "He needs to learn that, if you want to fight for a championship, you need to play percentages - and that's not how you do it.

"With Lowndes and Todd [Kelly], when they came past, they just drove into the side of my car. I don't mind getting passed, but how about having a bit of professional courtesy and leaving a bit of room when you do it? I'm looking forward to tomorrow, getting back up the front and racing some of those guys."

Team-mate Skaife's day wasn't any better, his race coming to an early end after the five-time champion was involved in a multi-car melee at the beginning of the second lap.

"Just unbelievable ... they're all battling like it's the final round of the world championship," the veteran growled, "It was just ridiculous stuff from a couple of blokes that's cost us all.

"The move by Patrizi from the outside to get across in front of everybody basically stopped us all as we had to pull up to avoid him. The last part was Jason Richards, he was never going to stop - and that's the hardest I've been hit since the last time he hit me!"



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