The toughest tussle in the short history of TCR racing in Australia is building for Bathurst.
It’s Garth Tander against Chaz Mostert in equal cars and almost equal conditions for the first visit to Mount Panorama by the turbocharged front-drive tiddlers.
Both drivers are proven TCR race winners, each will be driving an Audi RS3 from the crack team at Melbourne Performance Centre, and Tander’s lack of recent racing will be offset by the 60 kilos of success ballast in Mostert’s car at the Easter meeting.
Mostert, who is the runaway leader in the SuperCheap Auto TCR Australia Series after a clean-sweep of the latest round at Phillip Island, knows what to expect at Bathurst.
“I reckon Tander will be the man to beat. He always is,” Mostert told Race News
But Tander is not making any promises and knows Mostert will be tough to toss.
“Realistically, I’m not getting into the whole ‘How will I go against Chaz? thing. It’s how will go against myself,” he told Race News.
“I want to beat everyone. Same as usual.”
The 22-car field for the Bathurst meeting is the biggest yet for TCR in Australia and points to a bumper turnout for the landmark two-driver Bathurst 500, hopefully with international drivers, at the back end of the year.
The challenge of the new-age 500 is one of the reasons why Tander has decided to return to TCR, as well as doing a double run with an Audi R8 – again like Mostert – in the GT World Challenge Australia sports car races.
“The main reason I’m doing this race is so we have data and information for the 500-kay race at the end of the year,” said Tander.
“I’m just going for some practice. Just a bit of a drive. These days I’m just a 44-year-old TV reporter and part-time race-car driver.
“I’m looking forward to it. Should be good fun. I’m driving two cars, so that will be fun.”
Mostert, too, is looking forward to triple duty, as he will race TCR, GT and the Bathurst 6-Hour for production cars.
“It will be good, just to get back out at Bathurst and driving a few different cars,” he said.
But Tander is also one of the toughest and most competitive drivers in Australia, even without any recent seat time in the TCR Audi.
“I haven’t driven the car for over 12 months, so I’ll be a bit rusty.
“Mostert is clearly the form guy so it will be good to have the benchmark in the same team so I can see what he’s doing.”
Mostert is only on a race-by-race deal in the TCR series and, despite the Bathurst comeback, Tander said he has not locked-in anything for the 500 or the rest of the TCR championship.
“It will all come down to budget. And how we go. And all the rest of it,” he said.