Garth Tander: We’ve made significant gains

Garth Tander attacks the Turn 4 chicane

Garth Tander attacks the Turn 4 chicane

Garth Tander believes he can challenge runaway points leaders Will Davison and Jamie Whincup for this year’s V8 Supercars Championship crown after an encouraging day at the ITM400 Hamilton.

Having scored pole position in the Top 10 Shootout, Tander led eventual winner Will Davison for the opening 28 laps of the race.

While Davison and Jamie Whincup slipped past in the second and third stints respectively, a third place finish for Tander marked a stark turnaround from his disastrous run at Symmons Plains three weeks ago.

Tander sits fourth in the points standings after five races, and says he is “absolutely” in the championship hunt.

“There’s a lot of water to go under the bridge before December, and a lot of interesting racing will take place between now and then,” said Tander of how the year will pan out.

“We just need to keep ourselves in the hunt and do what we can to continue to develop the car.

“This weekend we’ve made some significant gains with the car. Certainly we’ve proved that the car is very fast in qualifying trim, but we probably need to sharpen it up a bit for its longevity through the stints.

“I had a few thoughts during the race on where we can improve on that. Following Will and then following Jamie I could see where their strengths were compared to our weaknesses. I think we can make our car better in the race tomorrow.”

Tander, whose sensational Race 5 pole lap included brushes with the exit walls at Turns 1 and 7, says that qualifying will again be vital ahead of Race 6.

“The qualifying lap around here is such a lottery,” said Tander.

“With only one set of green softs, you’ve got to get through the chicane without tripping the (electronic kerb hopping) marker, and that’s quite tricky to get right because you need to commit to that.

“Qualifying tomorrow morning is going to be very interesting. If we can be up the front then I think we can have an improved performance on today.”

James Courtney and Russell Ingall backed up their Walkinshaw Racing’s stablemate’s strong Saturday performance with sixth and 10th place finishes respectively.

Courtney was highly encouraged by his result, which came despite a 17th place grid slot, a tyre delaminating, a slow pitstop and a late-race engine problem.

“The car speed in the second part of the race was really, really good,” said Courtney.

“We were doing comparative times to the leaders and chasing them down.

“We unlocked something pretty drastic with the car, we changed something pretty big in the front end and the car came alive for me in the race so I’m pretty excited with today’s result.”

Courtney is competing with a brand new chassis this weekend. The car is expected to be the last to be debuted prior to the introduction of the Car of the Future next season.

See below for Speedcafe.com’s Hamilton Race Guide

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