Tander, HSV the winners in Bahrain Celebrity Challenge

Published: 14 March 2006

Pictured: HSV.

Toll HSV Dealer Team’s Garth Tander teamed up with five-time Olympic gold medal-winning rower, England’s Steve Redgrave, to win the Celebrity Challenge race in a HSV ClubSport at the Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix on the weekend.

Tander and Holden Racing Team’s Todd Kelly were invited to participate in the support race at the opening Grand Prix of the 2006 season after HSV – which sponsors both drivers – sent 20 race-modified ClubSports to the Middle East for a one-make series.

In doing so, the pair became the first V8 Supercar drivers to drive on the Bahrain International Circuit where the V8 Supercar Series will make its inaugural trip to the Middle East in November.

The Celebrity Challenge – the first outing for the HSV Clubsports – consisted of two races of 10 laps each, with professional drivers piloting the first five laps before handing over the car to a celebrity driver for the dash to the flag.

Celebrities taking part in the race included Redgrave, US Olympic sprint champion Michael Johnson, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason and Jamiroquai singer Jay Kay, while professional drivers included former Formula 1 drivers Martin Brundle, Johnny Herbert and Christian Danner.

Tander and Redgrave finished fifth in the first race after Redgrave spun twice, but recovered to win the second race and take honours in the Challenge. Kelly, teamed with Bahraini soccer player Hassan, finished third for the weekend despite completing one race with the car jammed in fourth gear.

Tander said he was impressed with the Bahrain International Circuit. “It’s very impressive in the same way that Shanghai was very impressive,” he said. “Great facilities and an excellent track, which is no surprise as both circuits were designed by Herman Tillke.

“The only disappointing aspect of it is that the V8s will race on a shortened circuit which actually takes out most of the really fun bits of the Formula 1 track.”

Tander admitted it was a big surprise to win the event. “When Todd and I flew over we had no idea we were going to be racing against the likes of Brundle and Herbert. Those guys can drive a bit and we’d never seen the circuit before so we were surprised to be so competitive. Obviously we know the characteristics of these cars very well.”

Kelly said he expected the experience would give he and Tander no more than a “two lap” advantage over their competitors at the Bahrain leg of the V8 series later this year.

“I reckon it will probably take the other drivers about two laps to get back on par with Garth and myself,” he said. “That’s how long it normally takes to dial in to a new track.

“The only real advantage that Garth and I might have is that we can word up our engineers on how to set the car up for the first session.”

Tander said he was looking forward to returning to Bahrain. “I’ve seen enough to know that our cars are going to look very good here, and it’s going to be a great race for our series.”

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