Garth Tander has been confirmed as Shane van Gisbergen’s co-driver at Triple Eight for the 2019 and ’20 long-distance Supercars races.
It was announced on Wednesday that three-time Bathurst 1000 winner Tander will be replaced at Garry Rogers Motorsport by Richie Stanaway this season, as part of a multi-year sponsorship deal with Boost Mobile.
While the shock news means the end of Tander’s full-time career in Supercars, which started with GRM back in 1998, he’s responded by landing a top co-driver seat alongside van Gisbergen in the #97 Red Bull Holden for the next two years.
That gives Triple Eight arguably the strongest endurance line-up since pairing primary drivers was banned, with Jamie Whincup/Craig Lowndes joining van Gisbergen/Tander for the Bathurst, Gold Coast, and Sandown events.
“Triple Eight have clearly been the class team in Supercars for the best part of the last decade, their results speak for themselves,” Tander said.
“When the opportunity arose to join the team alongside Shane for the enduros it was clearly the best way for me to transition from a full-time driver to a co-driver in this next phase of my career.
“I’m really looking forward to joining the team, hopefully bringing some experience and speed along with me, but mostly looking forward to learning from my new team-mates, Shane, Jamie and Craig.”
Tander will be van Gisbergen’s first Australian-based co-driver in three years, following US-based French driver Alex Premat, German-based Australian Matt Campbell, and Malaysian-based New Zealander Earl Bamber.
“Having Garth in Australia and already having a good relationship, it’ll be pretty easy to work well together quickly,” he said.
“All this year he’ll be coming to test days and races to integrate himself into the team as soon as possible and we’ll do everything we can to get him up to speed and learn the Triple Eight philosophy.
“Continuing my theme, it’s a shame not to have the same co-driver again.
“Earl did a stellar job, but being a factory Porsche driver, some of the big races on his calendar conflict with ours again. He did an amazing job for us last year.”
Triple Eight boss Roland Dane added that, in the wake of the Stanaway/GRM deal, signing Tander was a no-brainer.
“As soon as we heard that Garth would be taking a step back from full-time driving, it made sense to find out whether he had any plans for the enduros locked in yet,” said Dane.
“It’s happened very quickly, but we’re extremely happy to be welcoming him to the team.
“On paper it will be a very good partnership. Shane and Garth are a similar height, Garth is obviously very experienced in not just a Supercar but a Holden, and they both know how to handle pressure when it matters the most.
“With Bathurst being the first enduro on this year’s calendar, we should be in a good position to come in as well prepared as possible.”