Triple Bathurst 1000 champion Garth Tander says it ‘feels like starting over’ as he becomes reacquainted with the team which nurtured his Supercars career.
Already hands on with the Garry Rogers Motorsport operation, Tander will again be at the team’s Dandenong base this week before it shuts down for the Christmas break.
The 39-year-old was formally announced as the replacement for DJR Team Penske-bound Scott McLaughlin last week.
Embraced by eponymous team owner Garry Rogers, Tander was responsible for supplying GRM with its only Bathurst 1000 victory to date when he paired with Jason Bargwanna in the Valvoline Commodore in 2000.
“I’ve been in to see the team a few times already to meet everyone,” Tander told Speedcafe.com.
“I’m treating it very much like starting over again and I’m really excited by it and looking forward to it.”
Along with Rogers and son Barry Rogers, there are a sprinkling of team members remaining from Tander’s initial GRM stint from 1998-2004.
Engine builder Jeff “Gypsy” Marshall, Barry Megaw (sub assembly), Howard Johnstone (fabrication manager) and several others were all part of a much smaller GRM workforce during the aforementioned period.
“Those guys are still here which is great. It is a much, much bigger operation than when I left at the end of 2004.
“Without saying the numbers accurately, there were probably 10 or a little bit below full time staff when I was at GRM last time.
“Now there would be probably three times that amount to look after the two Championship cars and two Development cars.”
GRM is yet to confirm whether it will be able to continue running the B8444S V8 originally developed by Yamaha for road car use in the Volvo XC90 luxury wagon.
It is looking increasingly likely GRM will use Chevrolet powerplants in its S60-bodied Supercars next year.
“I’m not involved in that. That’s up to Garry and Barry. Hopefully it can be resolved sensibly and then we can just get on with it.”
Tander has driven Commodores throughout his 18-year Supercars career between the GRM and Walkinshaw squads.
However the first time the Perth-born racer turned a wheel in a Supercar was in an ex-Glenn Seton Falcon ahead of his maiden year in the category in 1997.
“The very first Supercar I drove was an ex-Glenn Seton Falcon that was owned by a guy in Perth which was basically to prepare me for a DJR test.
“I did that on the Monday after the 1997 V8 round in Perth and then the next weekend I tested a DJR Falcon on the Monday after the Mallala round.”