GARTH TANDER finished 26th, 28th, and 23rd in three of the five Supercars races preceding his 2011 Mount Panorama win.
The string of results were his worst of the year and left him all but out of contention for the Supercars drivers’ championship.
So a victory at Bathurst seemed unlikely given his form.
But when it comes to Mount Panorama, form seems to go out the window.
Tander and co-driver Nick Percat won Bathurst that year by 0.3 of a second over defending champions Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife.
They fought for every inch to hold off the legend pairing in a memorable mountain win.
And Tander says it is that year, and that victory, which provides reason to believe heading into Sunday’s Bathurst 1000.
After an “up and down” season with just one podium – a third in race two at Adelaide – Tander sits 13th in the drivers’ championship.
The Supercars veteran admits his series’ aspirations are long gone, but he has not given up on achieving success in 2018.
“It’s Bathurst, everyone wants to win it, it’s as simple as that,” Tander said when promoting the Newcastle 500 last week.
“You could sit here and say we’d be happy to be on the podium, and we would be, but if there is one race you want to win all year, it’s this one.”
Tander has won three Bathurst titles – each victory with a different co-driver.
His 2011 title with Percat came after victories with Will Davison in 2009 and Jason Bargwanna in 2000.
The 41-year-old said the build up to his 2011 victory was akin to how 2018 had unfolded.
He said a fourth Bathurst title on Sunday would help uplift what has been a forgettable season.
“In 2000 and 2009, we were definitely having better seasons, we were in the championship hunt all year,” Tander said.
“But in 2011, we weren’t in the championship hunt at all and we went out and won.
“You always sort of treat Bathurst as a stand alone event because it’s a unique circuit, unique event and provides unique results.”
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Tander has partnered with Chris Pither for this year’s endurance races.
The duo’s first race came at last month’s Sandown 500, where Pither was knocked off the track in the first lap and the pair fought back to finish ninth.
Tander described it as a “challenging weekend” but a “reasonably solid first hit out as a driving unit”.
“Chris has a got plenty of experience and he’s raced in the main game previously so from that point of view, [we are] very, very comfortable,” he said.
As far as Bathurst goes, we are going there to win it.- Garth Tander
“As far as Bathurst goes, we are going there to win it. We were in the top three with 15 laps to go last year and got caught out with the weather.
“If we put ourselves in a position to be up the front with about 20 laps to go that’s all you can hope for and see what plays out.”
No stranger to the chaos of the iconic mountain race, Tander said any success for the pair would come from how they embraced the unpredictable nature of the event.
“One of the beauties about Bathurst is that every year there’s unique storylines [and] unique challenges throughout the course of the week,” he said.
“How you react and how you deal with those challenges through the week will set the tone for how your result will be on Sunday.”
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