Bathurst winner fumes after ‘dangerous’ deluge

Four-time Bathurst 1000 winner Garth Tander was left bewildered by a decision to continue running behind the safety car in the wettest conditions he said he has ever driven in.

Tander finished second in the opening race of Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS at the Sandown SpeedSeries event, which was brought to a premature end 13 minutes shy of the scheduled one-hour distance due to heavy rain.

The worst of the rain arrived with 20 minutes remaining. Shortly thereafter, Ross Poulakis spun his Mercedes-AMG GT3 on the run down to Dandenong Road.

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Moments later, Matt Stoupas spun at the penultimate corner, looping through the grass before arresting his Audi R8 LMS GT3 in the gravel trap.

With Stoupas buried, the safety car was drawn onto the circuit.

The rain only got heavier and Poulakis went for another spin on the back straight, even at slow speed.

As conditions worsened, the race was declared at the 75 percent race distance.

“That’s the wettest [condititions] I’ve ever driven a race car in,” said Tander.

“We were under safety car and I was doing 100 kph and I couldn’t keep it in a straight line. I nearly looped it here [Turn 12] I nearly looped it on the back straight.

“Why that wasn’t red flagged? I actually said to the guys on the radio, ‘someone is going to crash under safety car’ and someone did on the back straight.

“There’s a duty of care. I mean, we want to go racing, and absolutely understand race control and they’ve got a job to do, but when you’ve got Shane [van Gisbergen], myself, Dave Reynolds all on the radio saying this is way too dangerous for safety car… and then you’ve got Am[ateurs] out there trying to drive and trying to drive the car and survive. 

“These cars are not cheap, they’re expensive race cars and we want to race them tomorrow. Yeah, we survived, that’s the best thing we can say.”

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Fraser Ross, who finished third with Audi co-driver Liam Talbot, was similarly terse in his assessment of the race.

“I must have drawn the short straw,” he chuckled.

“I’ve got to say, that’s probably the worst conditions I’ve ever driven a car in. 

“The race director made the right decision to red flag and shorten the race because that was just plain dangerous towards the end.”

Mercedes-AMG GT3 pilot Shane van Gisbergen won the race with Prince Jefri Ibrahim of Johor for Triple Eight Race Engineering. 

GT World Challenge Australia will take in one more one-hour race at Sandown on September 18.

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