The 2022 Bathurst 1000 was defined, perhaps more than any other in recent memory, by the co-drivers – and the winning duo didn’t hold back in their appraisal of some rival co-drivers.
Many teams opted to field their co-drivers from the starting grid, in an attempt to line up the driver stints so that the full-time driver was behind the wheel for the final laps without the need for a late driver change.
As Erebus team boss Barry Ryan said just before the race start: “All three cars, co-drivers will start. We’ll do the winning strategy and it’s pretty clear what that is.”
But for many teams, that backfired immediately. Desperate for early positions, a host of co-drivers pushed too hard in brutal conditions early on and paid the price.
Pole-sitter James Moffat, co-driver for Cameron Waters, had a horrible getaway from the starting grid. It was a sign of things to come.
After the first corner, a mass collision sent two cars spinning and left a host of others with damage, including Zak Best, co-driving for Thomas Randle, whose race was over.
Jack Perkins – co-driver for Will Brown – was one involved, as was Dale Wood – co-driver for Andre Heimgartner.
‘This is epic’: SVG secures Holden fairytale in classic, chaos-ridden Bathurst
‘No words right now’: Holden star duo ‘honoured’ by last-chance Bathurst glory
RACE CENTRE: FULL RESULTS
‘Driving like absolute losers’ | 01:27
‘Deadset ordinary’: Crash carnage mars opening Bathurst 1000 laps as stars out early
‘Driving like losers’: Star fumes as rival smashed over Bathurst chaos
When the race restarted, Zane Goddard, co-driving for James Courtney, lost control at The Chase attempting a desperate overtake. He made it through the sandtrap only to return to the track wildly out of control – causing another horrible crash.
That ended the race of another three driver pairs: Goddard/Courtney, Matt Campbell (co-driver for David Reynolds), and Wood/Heimgartner.
Meanwhile, Garth Tander remained calm and composed as he avoided the chaos – even letting rivals overtake in tight scenarios instead of defending too hard and possibly making race-ending contact.
The outrageous chaos of the opening 57 laps – with six safety cars – left the paddock stunned. And Shane van Gisbergen didn’t hold back. He said: “It was all the co-drivers, and all the people who caused it were co-drivers with something to prove, pretty simple.”
‘I’m absolutely spewing’: Star’s classy act after ‘disaster’ move leaves rival in tears
‘Hello pot. Meet kettle’: Rival team trolls irate Bathurst star over ‘out-of-control’ pass
‘F*****g vehicle blocked me!’ Reigning Bathurst champ at centre of massive controversy
Tander said: “We spoke last night in the car on the way back to the house. Patience was the big word, especially early in the race. I got a couple at the start but I gave a few up at the early stint because it was just out of control. You’ve just got to get through that phase, and we knew the weather was going to get better later in the day.
“You’re not going to win the race parked in the fence!”
Mark Skaife said: “It was pretty mad. It was crazy stuff. There was no use batting on with some of the lunacy that was unfolding.”
Garth Tander replied: “It’s a pretty short-term future thinking about ‘I’m going to lead the race at lap 10.’ I’ll lead the race at lap 161 thank you very much! It was just getting through that phase, and just having that mindset — I don’t have anything to prove.
“Just calm down, wait for the track to come, wait for the conditions to come and then tighten the belts up and go racing. That was always our mindset.
“If I could get to the front in the first stint, great. But there was no rush. Because I knew full well if I couldn’t get to the front, he was (gestures to van Gisbergen).”
It was a theme repeated throughout the paddock.
Driver sheds tear after being eliminated | 01:24
Heimgartner fumed at the crash which ended his race before he even got in the car. “It’s like these people don’t realise it’s 161 laps and they’re driving like absolute losers. Hopefully they get their s**t together.”
In the end, Tander’s calm, composed stints provided the perfect co-driver performance. And it wasn’t his only highlight of the weekend, having claimed the fastest lap of the weekend in Thursday afternoon’s practice – especially valuable preparation for the car after van Gisbergen had hit the wall in the morning.
Van Gisbergen said: “Garth this year was just on fire, and (he got the) fastest lap of the weekend as he keeps telling us!”
Tander said: “This one feels really special, because I feel like I really contributed in this one.”