Tander comes up short on Phillip Island
IT WAS a case of so close yet so far for Holden driver Garth Tander at Phillip Island yesterday, running out of fuel on the final corner with victory in sight.
Running on just fumes, Tander's car was swallowed up by hard-charging Kiwi Scott McLaughlin, the win capping a great weekend after he also took out the first of two races on Saturday.
"It's hard - I'm so pumped, but I feel for Garth, he drove an awesome race," the 21-year-old Volvo driver said.
Tander, who claimed the 2007 V8 Supercars Championship with a victory at the island circuit, wasn't looking for excuses.
"That's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes," he said.
"Can't thank our guys enough. We weren't thinking this was going to be one of our strong tracks… I came up about 100 metres short."
The weekend's results lifted McLaughlin into fifth place on the overall standings with just the Sydney 500 to come next month.
He said a top-five finish had been the team's goal at the start of the season, describing the results so far as: "a big effort for our little team".
The biggest winner on the weekend of course was Jamie Whincup who became the first driver to win six titles when he finished third and first in Saturday's two races.
Whincup, who finished fourth behind McLaughlin yesterday, said this year's triumph was arguably his greatest considering he trailed Ford's No.1 man Mark Winterbottom by up to 200 points mid-season.
"No disrespect to the other championships - they've been solid dogfights right to the end - but this one has thrown massive challenges in front of us," Whincup said.
"We were in a bit of a mid-season slump. Frosty (Winterbottom) was a long way ahead and so fast in the Sunday races, especially on the soft tyre and we were pretty much off the ball.
"As I said coming into Phillip Island win lose or draw, we're proud of the way we turned things around. It's been the fourth or fifth time we've been behind the ball and been able to pick it back up.
"That doesn't come easily, that comes from a lot of grinding going on behind the scenes so I couldn't be prouder of the crew."
Winterbottom looked in danger of losing second place to Craig Lowndes before yesterday's race, but regained a handy 95-point buffer after finishing third behind McLaughlin.
Lowndes had closed the gap to 44 points with two second placings on Saturday, but could only manage 10th in race three.
1: Jamie Whincup 3094
2: Mark Winterbottom 2642
3: Craig Lowndes 2547
4: Shane van Gisbergen 2508
5: Scott McLaughlin 2295