Race Distance: 500kms
Compulsory Pit Stops: Three
Tyre Allocation: Soft tyre compound only
Weather: Cloudy, rain at times, and 11 degrees
HRT Qualifying Highlights:
Tander and Luff WIN the Sandown 500!!
Starting positions for today’s 500km race saw Tander and Luff in 2nd, and Courtney and Perkins in 6th.
Luff smoked Dumbrell off the start line and dived straight into the lead at the first corner. Perkins was in a fierce battle with cars all around him and rubbed panels with Golding through turn one. Golding suffered a tyre failure after getting too close to Perkins’ exhaust and had a huge crash into the tyre wall at turn 6.
The safety car was immediately called but with an enormous clean-up job, the race was red flagged for the first time in the races’ history.
There was a 25 minute delay while the wall was repaired and being a time certain race the number of laps was reduced to 143. A rolling start recommence race proceedings with Luff controlling the field behind. Perkins was positioned in 7th.
A slippery kerb was causing havoc into turn four with multiple cars skidding and spinning onto the grass. Perkins benefited from one of these mishaps and moved into 6th on lap 16.
On lap 36 the rain start to fall and Luff, like most of the field, took the opportunity to pit for wet tyres. Perkins meanwhile continued to circulate but pitted on the next lap for his wets. No driver change took place during either of these stops; Luff re-joined the race still in 1st place and Perkins had jumped up a massive two spots to 4th.
By lap 46 the track was starting to dry, but with more rain predicted both Perkins and Luff stayed out now concentrating on managing their tyres. Dumbrell had caught up to Luff and was applying the pressure, eager to take the race lead; and he did.
Canto found himself in the wall on lap 55 and the safety car was again called to the track. Luff took advantage and pitted for new wet tyres, fuel and a driver change. A mistake in the stop saw a jack stand left under the car, but the crew quickly lifted the car and retrieved it.
While some time was lost in the stop Tander didn’t let that or the rain dampen his spirits. All the cars ahead of him had co-drivers steering, so Tander demonstrated his passing skills and quickly stormed up to 5th. Perkins meanwhile was positioned in 3rd place, yet to make his second stop.
Tander wasn’t content with 5th and with fresher tyres soon found himself behind his teammate Perkins. He wasted no time passing and moving into 3rd and before long he was back in touch with the race leader.
On lap 73 Perkins had lost a number of places to cars on fresher wets and with the track drying up it was time for new rubber. He was called in for slick tyres, fuel and a driver change. On the next lap Tander made the call to also stop for slick tyres and fuel. It was a fast stop by the crew and when Tander re-joined the race we was effectively 1st.
A slippery track saw Tander faulter momentarily at turn four but it was enough to let McLaughlin sneak by and move into the race lead. Tander regained composure and was only a few tenths of a second behind. Courtney was positioned back in mid-field but with good car speed was able to climb back up to 14th by lap 89.
On lap 100 Tander was still fighting to get past McLaughlin; he’d made numerous attempts but a slippery track made it difficult and risky. To make matters harder, Van Gisbergen had joined the back of them and was hoping for a mistake to be made. Lap after lap Tander was knocking at the door just inches from being able to pass McLaughlin.
Tander came in for his final stop on lap 105. When the race leaders McLaughlin and Van Gisbergen stopped on the next lap, Tander sailed passed them down the straight as they re-joined the race.
At this stage Courtney was up to 8th still to make his final stop, he completed this on lap 106.
As the laps were counting down, car #2’s left front guard came loose and was dangling off the car. There was nervous moments while the team waited to know if the car would be black flagged. Supercars technical team were happy to let Tander continue!
When the chequered flag was waved Tander (and Luff) crossed the line 1st and Courtney (and Perkins) finished just outside the top 10 in 11th.
Garth Tander, #2 Holden VF Commodore:
“It was obviously a very good day and the encouraging thing was the car speed was there all weekend. The car qualified really, really strongly on Saturday then was strong again in the qualifying races. Even in the mixed conditions today the car was fantastic.”
“Waz did an awesome opening stint in what were really trying conditions and then we made some great strategy calls through the back half of the race. We were doing it quite easy to be honest. But then when the front guard came loose the car became quite difficult to drive.”
“Luckily we had enough margin to get the job done. It’s a great result for the team and particularly for the car #2 guys, they’ve been working really hard and it’s nice to be taking a big trophy home.”
Warren Luff, #2 Holden VF Commodore:
“I am super excited tonight and to win at the Sandown 500 is an amazing result. To win for the Holden Racing Team is something very special. There has been so much effort go into the enduro preparation so it is a full credit to the guys on the team and everyone back at the factory.”
“Everyone has put so much effort into building this new car and right from Friday practice it’s been sensational. Again I can’t speak highly enough of the team, I’m very excited and it is great to come away with the win.”
James Courtney, #22 Holden VF Commodore:
“The cars are obviously quite speedy and Garth and Luffy won the race which was excellent. Our lap times were good but we were really out of the race when we missed the opportunity to stop under the safety car. It was disappointing but I’m really excited for the team and what’s to come.”
Jack Perkins, #22 Holden VF Commodore:
“Today was good and bad. It was great that the team won but I felt like we deserved a better result with car #22. I gave it my all today but just didn’t have the speed there at the end of my stint on the old wets. James recovered for us well and we finished just outside the top 10 which is really encouraging for the whole team heading to Bathurst.”