Garth Tander is headed back to the top of Supercars racing.
After doing the deal as a driver, with multiple Bathurst wins and a touring car championship, he is now being groomed for a leadership role on the Supercars broadcast team.
He will take the place of Mark Skaife in central commentary for several events later in the year after serving an apprenticeship with Supercars Television as a pitlane reporter, feature presenter and support-race commentator.
“There is no doubt that no-one is in a hurry to push Crompo or Mark out of their roles. But we need to look at the future,” revealed Nathan Prendergast, head of Supercars Television.
“We’ll find out his (Tander’s) capability. It is an opportunity to grow for the future. He is a true professional. He will bring a lot to this coverage.”
Tander’s new position comes as Supercars Television unveils a broadcast team that retains Jess Yates as anchor with Neil Crompton, Mark Skaife and Mark Larkham in key roles, but introduces Tander, rally champion Molly Taylor and former Hi5 entertainer Charli Robinson. Larkham will have an expanded role, but it will mostly be on the digital side of the coverage and not an extension of his on-air time.
Mark Beretta will be the anchor on the Seven Network side and the crew will also include Chad Neylon, with Seven adding Abbey Gelmi, Jack Perkins and Brad Hodge for some of its marquee events.
The obvious casualties are Andrew Jones, despite his excellent pitlane work in 2020, and Riana Crehan, with Greg Murphy only likely to be seen on telecasts with special appeal for New Zealand viewers.
Craig Lowndes will continue, but not in an analyst role and is more likely to be seen previewing the circuits and driving a range of cars, as well as presenting feature items.”
“It might be the world’s best kept secret, but we’re back with something old and something new,” said Prendergast.
He rejected any idea that the coverage would be less technical, with more fluff for occasional viewers, than it has been in the past.
“It’s never been our intention to dumb the coverage down. We have a huge amount of experience and expertise,” he said.
“We are going to be delivering the best possible motorsport product we can. We pride ourselves on making the technical easy to understand.
“We are going to give everyone what they want, hopefully.”
Prendergast was also keen to emphasise an all-new graphics package that is driven entirely by Supercars, and not its free-to-air partners.
“We are designing a brand-new look and feel for the category,” he said, highlighting the amount of work that has gone into the package without revealing any costs.
“A lot of time. A huge amount of time. We’re working with our graphics supplier, Girraphic,” Prendergast said.
He also went into more detail about the decision to give Tander what amounts to a television apprenticeship.
“Garth will have a multi-purpose role; a bit of pitlane, the key support races with Chad Neylon. And later in the year he will get some seat time in the main commentary role. We might remove MS for some time and give Garth a run.
“It’s a growth and development role.”
Tander is obviously excited, and challenged, by the new career direction despite his ongoing role as a Bathurst 1000 co-driver with Red Bull-Ampol Racing.
“I’m looking forward to tell the story from the driver’s seat. I’m no journalist, but I’m not going to try to be one,” Tander told Race News.
“I want to tell people why things happened, what the factors were that led up to things. I admire Ricky Ponting’s ability to tell people what is going to happen before the ball is actually bowled.
“This enables me to continue to be a part of the sport I love. To be able to help tell the story is a new role for me, but one I’ve been keen to develop. I’ve been doing more and more TV stuff over the past five years.
“Obviously it’s a fantastic opportunity and one that I’ve been working on for a little while. Now I’ve been able to get all the planets to align so I can join the broadcast team.”
The new Supercars coverage will be rolled out for the start of the Repco Supercars Championship at the Mount Panorama 500 from February 26-28 as the event is broadcast live on Foxtel, Kayo and the Seven Network.