Garth Tander could become the most successful V8 Supercar driver at Albert Park during the 2012 Formula 1 QANTAS Australian Grand Prix, but any success during the MSS Security V8 Challenge would struggle to dislodge his memories of the 2011 event.
The Toll Holden Racing Team driver has scored seven race wins in non-championship races at the venue to sit one behind Russell Ingall, who drives for sister outfit Supercheap Auto Racing, on the all-time tally.
Tander’s last win here came in the 2011 event, in a genuine highlight of the V8 Supercar era.
Having been diagnosed with adrenal cortical carcinoma in November 2010, Jason Richards made a one-off return to the V8 Supercar field with Team BOC at Albert Park. Despite feeling the physical effects of his battle, the Kiwi affectionately known as ‘JR’ starred. He qualified sixth before finishing fifth in Race 1.
He made an early charge in Race 2 and led the race, before he was eventually reeled in and passed by Tander, who won after finishing second in Race 1. Emotional scenes followed in the V8 Supercar pitlane as the tight-knit community celebrated Richards’ performance.
It would be Richards’ final weekend in a V8 Supercar, eventually losing his battle last December aged just 35.
“Jason was awesome all weekend considering what he was going through,” Tander recalled.
“We had qualified badly but had very good race speed on both soft and hard tyres. We were able to come through the field and challenge JR.
“It was the only time in my motorsport career that I’ve been faced with a moral dilemma – do I pass or don’t I?
“I passed him and won and he finished second, but I figured if JR knew I laid over to give him the win he’d give me a bullocking.
“For him to finish second as sick as he was, was a fantastic effort. I said at the time it was irrelevant about how good we did, the story was JR and what he achieved considering how sick he was – and only a few of us really knew.
“It was a very special day to be on the podium with him.”
Tander finished eighth in this morning’s opening race of the MSS Security V8 Supercar Challenge, and fourth in Race 2. V8 Supercars return to the track tomorrow at 3:20pm.