HRT Breaks The Drought

Tanda and Courtney Make It 1 – 2 In Townsville.

HRT-State-Of-Origin_raceAlmost two years of frustration are finally over for ex-V8 Supercars champion Garth Tander after he savoured victory in Sunday’s 200km race in Townsville.

However, series leader Jamie Whincup was left with a bitter taste in his mouth after again bombing out in north Queensland in a big blow to his title defence.

Tander stood on top of the podium for the first time since the 2011 Bathurst 1000 – a 21-month wait – after finishing just ahead of Holden teammate James Courtney with Shane van Gisbergen third.

On Saturday, long suffering Ford fans were celebrating after Will Davison marked only their third win of the season and completed a quinella with factory-backed teammate Mark Winterbottom in the opening 200km race.

However, the Blue Oval fans were seeing red barely 24 hours later when Tander ensured the factory-backed Holden Racing Team ended a 58-race drought.

Remarkably, it also marked HRT’s first quinella since Sandown 2009.

However, Whincup had another frustrating day on the tough street circuit, finishing 11th after qualifying 15th fastest.

It followed his seventh placing on Saturday after he started 16th on the grid – marking the first time he began a race outside the top 10 this season.

After arriving in Townsville leading teammate Craig Lowndes by 159 points, Whincup had it whittled down to 111 by Sunday.

The weekend did not start well for Tander who had to have parts flown in on Saturday after experiencing broken shock absorbers in practice.

But Tander reversed his fortunes on Sunday after starting fourth on the grid.

As he reeled in pole sitter Winterbottom on lap 19, Tander made heavy contact with the wall but somehow emerged unscathed.

Van Gisbergen was also impressive, tearing through the field to make the podium after switching to softs despite being relegated to the back of the field when he spun out on the opening lap.

Winterbottom started on pole but Tander got the tyre and fuel strategy just right to win an absorbing battle and finally re-enter the winners’ circle.

It was his 51st career win.

Half the field switched to the faster soft tyres after nine laps when Lee Holdsworth’s Mercedes was left idle on the track following oil pressure problems and the safety car emerged.

Winterbottom lost the lead by the 22nd lap when he was swamped by the soft tyre brigade led by Tander.

What followed next was an intriguing battle as teams juggled soft and hard tyres and fuel stop strategies.

The next round will be held in Ipswich from July 26-28.

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