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The Holden Racing Team’s Garth Tander and Will Davison were the last full-time drivers to team up to win the Bathurst 1000 in 2009. Two months after their victory, Supercars introduced a new rule that would force drivers to remain in their own entries for the endurance events.
The rationale behind the rule change was to have more competitive entries in contention in the final stages of the endurance events and also so the championship race wasn’t nullified by contending teammates scoring the same amount of points.
Previously, teams would either split or partner their full-time drivers, often depending on sponsorship arrangements for their cars, championship considerations or the strength of their co-drivers. By 2009, though, the preferred strategy was to pair up the full-time drivers.
The top-three finishers at the 2009 Bathurst 1000 were full-time combinations “ Tander and Davison, Brad Jones Racing’s Cameron McConville and Jason Richards, and Garry Rogers Motorsport’s Lee Holdsworth and Michael Caruso.
Tasman Motorsport bucked the trend and kept its full-time drivers in their own cars, allowing Greg Murphy to partner former teammate Mark Skaife in the season after the latter retired from full-time driving. They just missed out on the podium after a bold strategy call.
The Tasman entry finished ahead of the Triple Eight Race Engineering duo of Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup, with the latter’s fifth place after a troubled run ending their domination of the event following three consecutive wins from 2006 to 2008.
The teams that did pair their lead drivers went for varying strategies in their second cars. Triple Eight Race Engineering ran internationals Allan Simonsen and James Thompson, but, for the most part, other teams opted for combinations of former full-timers, regular co-drivers or young up-and-comers. The best of the part-timers was Garry Rogers Motorsport’s David Besnard and Greg Ritter, who finished ninth having led earlier in the race.
The introduction of the new co-driver rule received mixed feedback. Tander described it as “an absolutely stupid rule”, while regular co-driver Steve Owen was in favour saying it meant he could “go to Bathurst and realistically win the race”.
In the first season with the new rule at the Mount Panorama Circuit in 2010, Triple Eight Race Engineering completed a one-two formation finish with Lowndes and new co-driver Skaife leading home Whincup and Owen.
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