In what can only be described as a couple of ‘tough days at the office’, Audi Sport customer racing has taken its first podium in the TCR Australia Series amidst some bruising racing at Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit.
12 June, 2019
Come the first race and all hell broke loose – a theme that would continue for the remainder of the weekend
It was a weekend of mixed blessings for Audi Sport customer racing as the three-strong Melbourne Performance Centre Audi contingent travelled to Phillip Island for Round 2 of the TCR Australia Series.
The Audi RS 3 LMS showed its speed from the outset, with Garth Tander setting the pace in the first practice round on Friday. Leanne Tander also impressed in her first stint behind the wheel of her RS 3 LMS cementing fourth on the time sheets, while Hamish Ribarits had to settle for 12th.
In the second practice, Garth Tander finished second fastest, just 0.3646 behind the pacesetter, while Ribarits and Leanne Tander practically swapped results to finish fifth and 12th respectively.
Come the first race and all hell broke loose – a theme that would continue for the remainder of the weekend. Starting from seventh on the grid, Garth Tander was right in the thick of it from the start, battling with old V8 Supercar rival Jason Bright for third at one stage, but having to settle for fifth after a couple of miraculous saves resulting from contacts with other cars. Young Victorian, Hamish Ribarits finished just behind Tander, with Leanne Tander recording a top 10 finish in ninth.
But even after the race had finished the high drama continued, with Garth Tander awarded a 10 second time penalty for contact with John Martin’s Honda, dropping him back to 10th – that result moving wife, Leanne up to eighth and Ribarits into fifth.
Race Two and the action, contacts and indeed carnage was stepped up a notch. Incidents were plentiful, with the two Tander Audis caught right in the middle, as an already damaged Garth Tander RS 3 LMS was shunted from behind, pushing him into the RS 3 LMS driven by Leanne.
The contact ended the race for Garth and saw Leanne finish well back in 13th with a badly damaged car. The silver lining from the race though was for young Ribarits, who drove a good race in the #22 Audi to avoid trouble and finish strongly in third, the first podium finish for Audi Sport customer racing in the TCR Australia Series.
The flow-on effects from Race Two meant that Garth Tander was forced to start from the back of the grid in the final race, while the team from Melbourne Performance Centre worked feverishly just to ensure Leanne could start at all. Ultimately she joined the field from pit lane after the warmup lap – a testament to the professionalism of MPC to get the car ready in time.
The silver lining from the race though was that Hamish Ribarits scored the first podium finish for Audi Sport customer racing in the TCR Australia Series
Tander was relentless, starting from the back of the grid to finish just off the podium
With Race Three, the action was once again on from the start, with a huge crash at turn one threatening to take two of the three Audis outs through no fault on the part of the Audi drivers. Ribarits, who would go on to take ninth in the race, showed his skill to avoid several cars spinning out of control in his direction. Garth Tander too, managed to avoid the carnage in his heavily ‘bandaged’ RS 3 LMS, spectacularly catching a huge sideways lose at turn two to begin his hunt up through the field. Tander was relentless, finishing just off the podium in a race shortened because of earlier crashes and safety car periods – an outstanding performance from the back row of the grid.
Leanne Tander too showed her skill and the speed of the RS 3, fighting her way through the field having started from pit lane to ultimately finish 10th.
A tough weekend certainly and one that was clearly frustrating for Garth and Leanne after the Race Two trials. But with a podium result for Ribarits in the second race and the impressive fight backs from the Tanders in the final race, it was an impressive result nonetheless.
The TCR Australian Series now heads to South Australia’s The Bend Motorsport Park in July (12- 14) for round Three of what is compelling racing.
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