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Top ten cheers HSV Dealer Team after gloomy weekend

19/4/2005 14:02 (Press Release) - The Holden Special Vehicles Dealer Team emerged from a bleak weekend with a ray of sunshine in the form of a top-10 finish to Garth Tander in the final of three races in the Placermakers V8 International at Pukekohe.

Tander and teammate Rick Kelly narrowly avoided the mid-race carnage that eliminated several rivals and brought out the red flag to temporarily halt the race so officials could clear the track in drizzling rain.

Tander said he saw a cloud of dust in front of him just as he received a radio warning about the crash from his pit, so immediately braked. This gave him the vital moments to swerve to avoid damaged cars slewing across the track and its verges.

He said a following car ploughed straight into the dust, crashing out of the race.

Tander was 13th on the re-start, and over the final 16 laps, moved up through the field to ninth at the chequered flag.

Kelly, who started Race 3 from the back row of the grid after being hit and sidelined with a broken steering arm in the first lap of Race 2 earlier in the day, regained a total of 17 places to finish 15th in the final. This was despite being hit yet again by a rival, who spun the #15 Commodore on lap seven of the 50-lap final.

A disappointed Kelly said he had not been completely happy with his car in the wet or dry, but it was less of a disadvantage once the showers hit. "We have plenty of opportunity for improvement in the next round," he said.

The team suffered plenty of disappointments over the course of the weekend, and every time they seemed to be making progress, fate intervened.

In Race 2, the trouble started almost immediately in a first-lap melee which damaged both HSV Dealer Team Commodores.

Rick Kelly's car came together with John Bowe's Falcon, damaging a steering arm on the Holden and sending Kelly back to the pits. Although the HSV DT crew repaired the car and got Kelly back out few a laps, he pitted again soon after and was out of the race.

Tander got caught up in the same accident that claimed Kelly. He suddenly found his path blocked by a car, crunching the front of the #16 Commodore. He was able to continue, but the impact loosened a side skirt and he had to pit for running repairs.

He rejoined in 24th place and made up four places to 20th before the chequered flag came out.

The race crew spent the break between the two 50-lap races repairing both cars for last effort to claim some satisfaction from a disappointing weekend.

The round was won by Holden's Greg Murphy, from Russell Ingall and Marcos Ambrose. Tander's effort in the final race elevated him to 13th for the round, while Kelly came 20th. The V8 Championship Series now moves to Perth for Round 3 on May 6-8.

#15 Rick Kelly (Race 2 - DNF; Race 3 - 15th; Round - 20th): "Race 2 was pretty terrible and then in Race 3, it was the same again. Someone turned me around again - exactly the same spot, exact same thing. Unfortunately, it put us back. The car wasn't great in the wet or dry, but it was less of a disadvantage in the wet than the dry. We have plenty of room for improvement before the next race."

#16 Garth Tander (Race 2 - 20th; Race 3 - 9th; Round - 13th): "The car was good all weekend, but we just kept running into brick walls. We were behind the eight ball after being put to the back of the grid in qualifying. We broke through in that last race - the car was really good in the wet. I didn't actually see the crash, just dust everywhere. The boys on the radio told me to get on the brakes as hard as I could and I did, and I managed to avoid it."

Release Date: 17/04/2005

HSV Dealer Team