Garth Tander believes that Mark Skaife has been unfair in his grievances about Nick Percat winning the 2011 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, and that Skaife arguably lost the race himself.
The victory came despite Percat, Tander’s co-driver in the #2 Holden Racing Team Commodore, glancing the wall when he got caught over the crown of the road as Lowndes passed on his inside at Griffins Bend on Lap 52.
That move put Lowndes into second position, but still behind the sister Triple Eight Race Engineering entry of Jamie Whincup and Andrew Thompson.
Tander points out that Skaife had started the race ahead of Thompson, somewhat fortuitously, only to run wide at The Chase on Lap 16 and give up track position to Whincup’s car which they would not regain until Car #88 encountered electrical problems late in the day.
By then, the damage had already been done and while Lowndes fought valiantly from seventh position at the final restart, he came up short of winning the race.
“Skaife is dirty that Percat stood on the top step of that podium, and he’s dirty because they had to double-stack all day and that’s what cost them the race,” said Tander on the latest episode of the V8 Sleuth Podcast.
“Nick bumped the wall,” he conceded, before adding, “Like Mark’s never made a mistake at Bathurst…”
“That’s unfair to be as harsh as he has been on Nick, and he blued at the end and has done since; and we’ll have an aggressive beer over this at some stage, Mark and I.
“Don’t forget this is full HRT versus Triple Eight warfare because this is now when Triple Eight are running Commodores, HRT is the factory team but there’s starting to be a bit of animosity between the two teams, and Skaife’s driving at Triple Eight and he wants to desperately beat Clayton, the team that he used to drive for.
“I was on provisional pole (but) it rained halfway through the Shootout, so the last three cars had to do the Shootout in the wet, so it was Frosty (Mark Winterbottom), Jamie, and myself, so we started ninth or 10th, because it was wet.
“I think Craig’s car was up the front somewhere, so they had track position on Jamie and Thommo, but in the first stint, Skaifey threw it off at The Chase, Thommo passed him, and that was it, that was the track position for the rest of the day.
“So Skaifey’s bluing, all ‘Percat shouldn’t have won that race, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,’ and the track position came all the way back to the first stint of the race, and it was M.Skaife driving the car.
“So Skaifey won’t talk to me for a while now, but that’s what happened.”
Tander also claimed that Percat’s error at Griffins was merely a lucky escape, the likes of which the eventual race winners at Mount Panorama tend to get away with.
“Yeah, Nick clipped the wall, but anyone that has won Bathurst will have a story like that, hundred percent,” he added.
“Some little drama happens through the day and it had the potential to derail you, but when I was there with Mark in ’06 (start line clutch failure leading to Lap 1 crash), it wasn’t our day; ’11 just happened to be our day.
“(Percat) could have clipped the wall, he could have plucked the corner out of it, and it could have been race over, but he clipped the wall, he had the mindset to actually straighten the wheel up so it clipped the wheel evenly, it didn’t have any steering lock on it, and yeah, the steering was bent a little bit, but it didn’t cost us any lap time.”
The 2011 Bathurst 1000 was ultimately Skaife’s last, as he was obliged to step back from driving in order to fulfil his role as chairman of the then newly formed V8 Supercars Commission.
Tander will drive in this year’s Pirtek Enduro Cup as co-driver to Shane van Gisbergen at Triple Eight, which, in a further irony, is now the Red Bull Holden Racing Team.
The 2019 Pirtek Enduro Cup starts with the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, which runs from October 10-13.