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Sport The sad postscript to Bathurst 1000 victory

05:50  19 october  2020
05:50  19 october  2020 Source:   wwos.nine.com.au

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The Bathurst 1,000 is a 1,000.293-kilometre (621.553 mi) touring car race held annually on the Mount Panorama Circuit in Bathurst , New South Wales, Australia.

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Bathurst 1000 winner Garth Tander says the image of Shane van Gisbergen flying the Holden flag after the pair's victory yesterday will remain with fans for years to come.

The race marked the final time Holden will contest a Supercars event in an official capacity, following the announcement by General Motors that the brand will be retired.

Van Gisbergen completed his slow-down lap at Mt Panorama with the Holden flag flying high, following the 34th victory for the marque.

"That was pretty cool, we were all waiting at the podium wondering where he was, then we found out later he'd stopped to pick up the Holden flag," Tander told Wide World of Sports.

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"It was an awesome image, and that will mean a lot to all the Holden supporters, obviously being the last official involvement for Holden at Bathurst.

"Holden fans have been so passionate over the journey about Bathurst, and it was great to be able to repay their support."

Tander, whose four Bathurst 1000 wins have all come for Holden, lamented the fact that the Holden fans weren't able to be present at the track to say farewell.

a car driving on a race track: The Shane van Gisbergen/Garth Tander Commodore during the Bathurst 1000. © Getty The Shane van Gisbergen/Garth Tander Commodore during the Bathurst 1000.

COVID-19 restrictions meant just 4,000 spectators were able to attend.

"It was a real shame the crowds weren't there, because it was lacking a bit of the Bathurst atmosphere that we all know and love. It was especially sad for the Holden fans who couldn't be there for that win," he explained.

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"But as far as the race went, the intensity was like nothing I'd experienced before. It makes it special to win, but it would have been nice to have the fans up the top of the mountain, and also at the podium after the race."

Tander's latest win, following his victories in 2000, 2009 and 2011, puts him in elite company. Only six drivers have won more Bathurst titles, and his four wins put him level with the likes of Jamie Whincup and Allan Moffat.

a police car parked in a parking lot: Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander claimed the 2020 Bathurst 1000. (Getty) © Getty Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander claimed the 2020 Bathurst 1000. (Getty)

With Tander's wins spanning a 20-year period, only Jim Richards (24 years) and Craig Lowndes (22 years) have enjoyed success at the Mountain over a longer timeframe.

"That really hadn't dawned on me until last week when I was reminded that it was the 20th anniversary of my first win," he said.

"That's obviously quite special, although clearly it's two very different stages of my career.

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"Back in 2000 I was very much starting out, now I'm moving into that co-driver role. It's a nice stat, one of my mates texted and pointed out that it seems like I win every 10 years or so, he wanted to put me down for 2030, but I don't think I'll be going around then!

"It's an honour to win just one, let alone have a few. It feels surreal to have my name on that list, when you're starting out as a junior, you just feel that one day it would be cool to even race at Bathurst, let alone win it."

Garth Tander holding a sign posing for the camera: Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander with the Peter Brock Trophy. © Getty Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander with the Peter Brock Trophy.

When Tiger Woods won the US Masters in 2019, he spoke of the desire to win a major tournament in front of his children, instead of having them rely on footage of victories from before they were born.

It's a similar situation for Tander, who has two children with wife Leanne, Scarlett, 9, and Sebastian, 7.

"It's a real shame they couldn't be at the circuit, it's the first Bathurst they've missed," Tander explained.

"Last time I won my daughter was six months old, so obviously she won't remember, but they watched all day yesterday and I spoke to them on Facetime after the race, they were super excited and carrying on.

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"It's really cool, they'll have a cool day at school today, it's nice that they're at an age where they'll remember it, not just think that Dad was some old racing car driver."

The Bathurst 1000 was the first time Tander had been in a racecar since March, with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting the season, as it has done for so many sports.

But as a veteran of 23 Bathurst races, Tander admitted he'd been comfortable in the weeks leading up to the race, feeling his experience would mean he'd only need about 20 minutes behind the wheel to get back into the groove.

He's slipped effortlessly into the co-driver role at Triple Eight, although he admits it's taking some time to adjust.

"It used to be that I was in the car finishing the race, but now that's Shane's job. I've got to say it's not that enjoyable not being in the car," he joked.

"I've got 100 percent faith in Shane's ability to close the deal, but after so long having your destiny in your own hands, to sit back and try and relax and watch it unfold is fairly different.

"I was pretty comfortable yesterday until about 10 laps to go, then we had those late safety cars which gets you on your toes a bit, but Shane handled it perfectly."

The safety car referenced by Tander turned the end of the race into a shootout between van Gisbergen and Cam Waters in the Mustang, with van Gisbergen setting the fastest lap of the race on the second last lap, as he held off the Ford.

Garth Tander holding a sign: It's the final Bathurst win for a Holden-backed team. © Getty It's the final Bathurst win for a Holden-backed team.

"I was wondering why it took him until the end of the day to get going," Tander laughed.

"To do the fastest lap on the second last lap was a bit of a statement that we had it under control, and if Cam wanted it, he'd have to come and get it.

"It showed how good the car was, and how good Shane was managing the stints, and managing the tyres to have that performance at the end. Our car was so good, it got better as the race went on and more rubber went down, the conditions really came to the car.

"When I drove it in the middle of the race it was the best racecar I've ever driven at Bathurst."

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