Tander versus Tander:
Leanne Tander adds girl power to V8 Supercar enduros with WSR
V8 Supercars has today welcomed a female racer into its ranks for the 2009 V8 endurance races.
Australia's top female motor racer, Leanne Tander is set to bring girl power to V8 Supercars, having earned a hotly-contested enduro drive with Wilson Security Racing (WSR) for the 2009 season.
Far from being a token female, 28-year-old Tander is a highly accomplished racer in her own right and has made a habit of outpacing most of her male counterparts in many of Australia's leading racing categories.
A fierce competitor, Tander has written herself into the record books on numerous occasions, including becoming the first woman in the world to win a Formula 3 race**.
No stranger to V8 Supercar racing, Tander spent the 2001 and 2002 seasons battling the blokes in the V8 Supercar Development Series and became the first and only woman to stand on the podium of a V8 Supercar race.
The wife of 2007 V8 Supercar Champion, Garth Tander, Mrs Tander is also relishing the opportunity to compete against her husband in this year's 500km battle at Phillip Island and the world-renowned Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama.
Not only will Mrs Tander take on the men, it will be husband versus wife, and Ford versus Holden as she climbs aboard the WSR Falcon, setting up a monumental on-track battle and compelling viewing for V8 Supercar fans.
The extraordinary Tander versus Tander battle will be the first time a married couple will race each other in V8 Supercars.
Eager to get some time behind the wheel of the Wilson Security Racing Falcon, Tander's first scheduled outing in the V8 Supercar will be in the team's upcoming test day at Queensland Raceway on Wednesday 11 March.
The 2009 V8 Supercar Championship Series' endurance events will see Tander in full race mode in the WSR Falcon for the first time at the L&H 500 Phillip Island on 11-13 September before she takes on 'the Mountain' in the prestigious Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 on 8-11 October.
In addition to her racing duties, Tander's professional approach and bright personality will also see her employed as a brand ambassador for Wilson Security throughout 2009 and beyond.
ON EARNING WSR V8 SUPERCAR DRIVE:
"Obviously I'm very excited. When the contract was signed and everything was finalised, I couldn't stop grinning for the rest of the day; I'm just thrilled.
"Now that this is locked away, it has really rejuvenated me and I'm 100% focused on doing the best job I can at the enduros for Wilson Security Racing.
"V8 Supercar driving is very different to the open wheeler racing I've done lately. The Formula 3 weighs about 500 kilos and feels like it's on rails, and now I'm going to jump into a 1,500 kilo V8 with about three-times as much horsepower as my F3.
"I'll have to get back into the sedan-way of driving, but I'm really looking forward to it. Every time I have driven a V8, I've absolutely loved it and I can't wait to get back in one.
"I know when it comes around to race-time later this year, I'll be up to the task."
ON BEING A WOMAN IN A MAN'S SPORT:
"To be honest, 98% of the time I forget that I'm any different to anyone else out there. Everybody on the track is out there to win – they want to beat every single person, I want to beat every single person; we're really no different in that regard.
"Most of the time I do forget that I'm unique in this field, and it's usually when people ask the question that I remember.
"Racing against the guys has never been an issue for me. I've been doing it since I was 13, so it's my life. I don't know any different.
"I don't know what it would be like to be a guy in the sport, so it's hard to judge."
ON RACING AT BATHURST:
"I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to going to Mount Panorama in October.
"In 2001, I was entered in the Bathurst 1000, but I never got the chance to race. I was ready to go, standing in pit lane waiting for the car to come in because my co-driver was on his in-lap and he crashed it on the way into pit lane. That ended our race before I'd even gotten in the car.
"So this year will be my first year to actually race a V8 Supercar at Bathurst.
"I recently raced in the Bathurst 12-hour production car race which was a good chance to get some extra laps around the track. We came second in our class, which was a pretty good outcome."
ON RACING HER HUSBAND, 2007 V8 SUPERCAR CHAMPION, GARTH TANDER:
"Garth and I have sort of raced each other before – my first Formula Ford race coincided with the year that Garth won the Formula Ford Championship, so he was out the front leading and, being my first race and all, I was down toward the back.
"In a way, I guess we raced each other, although we didn't know each other then.
"Also, when I did the enduros with GRM in 2001, we were in the same race.
"In the Queensland 500, I actually beat Garth because I think he had car trouble and went a few laps down. So I actually beat him in that one!
"Then at Bathurst my co-driver crashed before I got in, so my race ended before I even got in the car.
"We've never had the opportunity to race wheel-to-wheel and I don't think we will be necessarily racing wheel-to-wheel this year either, but to be in the same race with my husband, I'm really looking forward to it.
"I imagine things will be a little different at home this year... normally leading up to the big events there's a huge focus on Garth and things centre around his schedule and what he has to do for those races.
"Whereas there are going to be two of us in that situation and we'll each be doing our own preparation and our own work to get ready for the enduros, this year.
"We've always been hugely supportive of each other and his response to me getting this opportunity with WSR has been great. He has been so excited for me.
"We'll continue to support each other where we can, but on those two race weekends I guess he'll have to get his own lunch and his own drinks because I'll be busy!"
PAUL CRUICKSHANK - TEAM PRINCIPAL, WILSON SECURITY RACING:
"I'm delighted to welcome Leanne into the team - she is an outstanding driver and she has absolutely earned this opportunity.
"Leanne has a lot of experience in a wide variety of cars and has shown that she can adapt very quickly to her surrounds.
"There are a string of lap records and pole positions that attest to how quick Leanne is, and she's racked up plenty of race wins in a range of national categories, which leaves no doubt about the quality of her race craft.
"Being a woman in such a male-dominated sport, she has naturally worked extra hard to prove herself; she is an extremely motivated and talented racer and I really look forward to working with her.
"Having announced our complete driver line-up for 2009, we're keen to start testing with the whole team, and we will confirm our driver pairings closer to the enduros."
JOHN MCMELLAN - CEO, WILSON SECURITY, AUST/NZ:
"We are confident that Leanne will be a great asset to the Wilson Security team, both on-track and in our business activities.
"First and foremost, Leanne has been offered this endurance drive with WSR based on her capabilities.
"For Wilson Security, it is important that our racing endeavours reflect our business values and Leanne's inclusion in the team is a perfect example of that in action.
"We are an equal opportunity employer, rewarding and recognising our people based on their merit, providing opportunities for professional development.
"In addition to her racing skills, our relationship with Leanne offers huge value to our branding activities and we will utilise her extensively within our business, particularly with the launch of our exciting new alarm response technology - Wilson Security Rapid.
"Leanne will perform corporate and ambassadorial duties, interacting with our customer base along with her WSR team mate, Michael Patrizi and racing veteran & Wilson Security ambassador, John Bowe.
"We have options on Leanne for the future and we hope this is just the beginning of a long relationship that will see her become an integral element in our Wilson Security profiling and branding activities, both racing and non-racing."
** Formula 3 is an internationally recognised feeder category to Formula 1. It is the fastest car racing series in Australia.