PIRTEK Enduro Cup Champions snare Sandown win
Garth Tander crosses the line to win the Sandown 500
Defending PIRTEK Enduro Cup Champions Holden Racing Team’s Garth Tander and Warren Luff have survived a stricken racecar and storming charge from Shane van Gisbergen to take the Wilson Security Sandown 500 and lead the Enduro Cup heading to Bathurst.
In a difficult day full of changeable conditions, Luff established a solid platform for Tander who maintained the Holden Racing Team’s #2 at the pointy end of the field to win by the barest of margins and end a 72 race streak between victories – which also marked his first Sandown 500 win.
The #2 Holden caught the eye of officials around 20 minutes before the time certain finish when the front left guard came adrift. The aerodynamic impact as well as the decision from the HRT to place scrubbed front Dunlops on the car at the final pitstop saw Red Bull Racing Australia’s Shane van Gisbergen close the gap from 12 seconds down to 0.349s at the drop of the chequers.
The second placed finish by van Gisbergen also saw Frenchman Alex Premat score his first PIRTEK Enduro Cup podium. Third place was taken by a stricken Will Davison and Jonathan Webb in the Darrell-Lea STIX Holden that was ailing with an engine issue in the dying laps.
The 500km race was suspended on lap four after a monster accident at the end of the back straight on lap one when Series rookie, James Golding buried his GRM Volvo into the tyre wall after a tyre deflated at the end of the back straight. The suspension was the trigger for the race to become time certain and not meet its prescribed 161-lap distance.
Although largely Safety Car free, there was no shortage of action throughout the course of the race with a number of combinations looking likely to take the win. Coming to the final round of pitstops, Scott McLaughlin and David Wall’s Volvo was leading from Tander and van Gisbergen.
The decision by the HRT to pit Tander a lap prior to Volvo and Red Bull delivered fresh air to Tander and he was able to build a margin on the opposition.
McLaughlin and Wall were fourth, Chaz Mostert and Steve Owen fifth, Fabian Coulthard/Luke Youlden in the PIRTEK-backed DJR Team Penske Ford, Nissan’s Todd Kelly/Matt Campbell, Bathurst Champions Craig Lowndes/Steve Richards, Nick Percat/Cameron McConville and Rick Kelly/Russell Ingall completed the top 10.
The changeable weather ensured the race embodied the PIRTEK Enduro Cup’s focus on teamwork with drivers and teams battling which the correct tyre choice for most of the first half of the race.
The win keeps Luff’s phenomenal streak in the PIRTEK Enduro Cup alive – securing now seven podium finishes in the 13 events contested for the PIRTEK inspired trophy, of which he is the only driver to have won twice and has scored more podiums than any other driver.
The next round of the PIRTEK Enduro Cup will be in early October at Mount Panorama Bathurst for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 and then will culminate at the Castrol Gold Coast 600.
“The car was fantastic and when the guard came adrift – it knocked the mirror out and was so hairy over the top at Dandenong Road, it was really hard to manage right to the end.
“The guys on Car #2 haven’t had a lot to cheer about over the last 12 months, the new car we brought on at Eastern Creek was strong and from the time we rolled it out on Friday it just felt mint.
“Luffy put together a sensational first stint, I couldn’t be happier for him considering he doesn’t do a lot of racing, but always drives within himself and does such a great job.”
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to bring the HRT back to the winner’s circle, it has been a mammoth effort and testament to the hours that the guys have put in.
“It was very tough in the wet phase, the last thing you want to do is make a mistake when you hand the car over. I was probably a bit conservative during the wet stage of the race, so I was so happy to hand the car back in one piece.
“It was good fun in those conditions, it was very slippery the setup of our car was very good and I’m very very happy to have won this race.”
1 G.Tander/W.Luff (Holden) 300 Points
2 S.Van Gisbergen/A.Premat (Holden) 276
3 W.Davison/J.Webb (Holden) 258
4 S.McLaughlin/D.Wall (Volvo) 240
5 C.Mostert/S.Owen (Ford) 222
6 F.Coulthard/L.Youlden (Ford) 204
7 T.Kelly/M.Campbell (Nissan) 192
8 C.Lowndes/S.Richards (Holden) 180
9 N.Percat/C.McConville (Holden) 168
10 R.Kelly/R.Ingall (Nissan) 156