To end the enduro season, we head to the uncertainty of the south which we like to call the Sandown 500.
It’s the weather we are uncertain of more than anything else as the drivers are certain they are ready to take on the final round of the Enduro Cup.
For newbie Garth ‘GT’ Tander, we can also say with certainty that things have gone pretty well this season.
“To be on the podium at all the endurance races to this point and leading the Pirtek Enduro Cup is a nice start to my relationship with Shane and the Red Bull Holden Racing Team,” GT said.
Not to mention in contention for the Co-Driver Cup (yes, it’s a thing believe it or not).
“I knew that when I joined the team, we had a chance to be on the podium and win some races, so, so far so good but we obviously need to finish off at Sandown in style.”
And with Shane ‘SVG’ van Gisbergen as a co-driver car 97 will finish off in SVG style no doubt!
On the other side of the garage Jamie ‘J-Dub’ Whincup has praised the efforts of getting the boys back together and the fact that things haven’t really changed much between the dynamic duo.
“It’s been good so far and I’ve really enjoyed driving alongside Craig as he’s done a fantastic job; more than we could have ever expected,” said J-Dub.
“I’m happy that I could be part of getting a win for Craig at the Gold Coast and as I say, we are not greedy but hopefully we can round off the enduro season strong this weekend.”
With Bathurst and Gold Coast behind us and two tracks that couldn’t be any more different from one another, how does Sandown compare?
“Sandown is about getting the car fast, so the real big emphasis is on teamwork with the engineers over the whole weekend to make sure the car is fast when it goes down the straights,” said J-Dub.
“Sandown is more so similar to Gold Coast than to Bathurst for track layout so there is some consistency there, and it’s bumpy; you need to use a lot of the kerbs, so again in that regard it’s more like the Gold Coast,” added GT.
We have always said teamwork makes the dream work and with J-Dub currently holding the fastest lap times in both qualifying and race, a repeat of last year would be an epic way to end the endurance season.
“Last year we had the advantage early in the weekend with the track repairs generating high grip, but this year with the aerodynamic changes and updates I think there’s a possibility we will see the lap times drop again,” Craig ‘CL’ Lowndes said.
Although we’ve been asking about the drivers predictions throughout the season and they haven’t been anywhere near the actual on track results, we still like to know their thoughts especially if it means they predict a teammate as the one to watch.
“Shane, he will be wanting to secure the Pirtek Endurance Cup and ensure he stays in the Championship fight,” CL said.
Shall we see Car 97 finish at the top? GT certainly thinks so.
“That’s the plan… a win!” he laughed.
“But… we know the competition will be strong, not only from everyone else, but also from our teammates in Car 888.
“There’s a real chance to get the team into a strong position in the Teams Championship, so it’s not just about the Enduro Cup, there’s a few things on the line and I figure the best way to help with it all is to try and win and let the rest take care of itself!”
Good thinking GT – we’ll leave it wih you.
We will start firing off the tweets Friday, November 7 when the co-drivers hit the track for practice on our Twitter page.
Craig’s Sandown Predictions:
Fastest lap time on the track: A low 1:07.
Who’s the one to watch at Sandown: Shane van Gisbergen
Biggest Challenge at Sandown: The weather, it’s always unpredictable
Three words to describe Sandown: Bumpy, brake destroyer.
Favourite moment at Sandown: Last year’s 1,2,3. It was the first time a single team had a podium lockout and it was great having all the team on the podium.
Garth’s Sandown Predictions:
Fastest lap time on the track: 1.07.85
Who’s the one to watch at Sandown: David Reynolds / Luke Youlden.
Biggest Challenge at Sandown: Changeable Melbourne weather.
Three words to describe Sandown: Kerbs, Bumpy, Slippery.
Favourite moment at Sandown: Winning the 2016 Sandown 500, – (beating out SVG in the process ☺)