Garth Tander will return to Garry Rogers Motorsport for the 2017 Australian Supercars Championship season, replacing the DJR Team Penske-bound Scott McLaughlin.
The West Australian veteran made his V8 Supercars debut in 1998 as a 21-year-old with GRM. He drove for the team over the course of seven seasons, impressively finishing as championship runner-up in the 2000 season.
A switch to the factory HSV Dealer Team in 2005 netted him the Drivers’ Championship crown two years later, and he remained a factory-backed driver when he moved to the Holden Racing Team in 2008.
Tander’s stint as HRT’s longest-serving driver came to a surprise end when his contract was not renewed beyond 2016 thanks to the team signing Scott Pye in his place.
“There is a bit of romanticism about it all, but in reality if you sit down and look at results over the last couple of years and the stability of the [Garry Rogers Motorsport] organisation then it’s a great opportunity from a driving point of view as well,” Tander explained to the official Supercars website when his signing was announced.
While the 39-year-old remains one of the grid’s elder statesmen, team owner Garry Rogers (pictured above, with Tander) believes that his experience on the track and behind the scenes could reap long-term benefits for the team.
“Garth’s business acumen is important; he is very smart as well as being a great driver so I think he will be a person to help maintain [and] also grow the team,” said Rogers.
“I have no doubt that Garth will be a serious contender on track. As a driver he has a few good years left in him in my opinion and whether that’s two or ten I don’t know. There will be stage when Garth decides to step back from full time driving and then we would look at maybe endurance races and helping us with our young drivers.”
Tander joins the squad as teammate to James Moffat. What is not known is exactly what cars the pair will be driving in 2017, as the team remains deadlocked in a legal dispute with Volvo Cars to get permission to keep using their current S60 model even though the carmaker has officially withdrawn its factory support from the championship at the end of the year.
Image via Garry Rogers Motorsport