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Tander-Luff claim momentous Sandown crown

AAP logoAAP 18/09/2016 Ben McKay

Garth Tander and Warren Luff have claimed a famous Sandown 500 win, holding steady to defy Shane van Gisbergen and a failing car to win the Supercars endurance race.

On a dramatic day in Melbourne, van Gisbergen nabbed the championship lead from teammate Jamie Whincup but not the race win.

With 20 laps remaining, the mud guard in Tander's Commodore blew out, clinging to the car's frame through the final stages.

Race officials decided against penalising Tander for an unsafe car, but he still needed to fend off a rampant van Gisbergen.

He did so by less than a third of a second - the second-closest margin in the race's history.

An exuberant Tander jumped on the car to celebrate.

"The last ten laps was a real struggle ... (the mud guard) completely ruined the car balance," he said.

"Once the gap got to three seconds I said (over team radio) 'I can see him, now leave me alone'.

"I wanted this one on the CV, I didn't have it yet."

The victory - Tander's first in two years on tour and his first at Sandown - was made extra special given Holden's decision last month to withdraw factory backing from Tander's Walkinshaw team in 2017.

Van Gisbergen, joined by co-driver Alex Premat on the podium, said he didn't want to triumph because of a disqualification over the mud guard.

"I'm glad they let it run," he said.

"If they did black flag it it would have been a hollow victory."

Will Davison and Jonathan Webb claimed third for Tekno Autosports.

From the first lap to the last, the Enduro Cup opener was spectacular.

James Golding's lap one crash brought the first red flag and restart in the 500-kilometre classic's history.

On his first Supercars start, the 20-year-old hit the tyre wall at 149km/h in his Volvo but walked away unhurt.

The remaining 25 cars fought out a battle royale with such carnage, the track and cars resembled a scene from Mad Max.

Degraded tyres and muck from many trips into the grass showed the tough conditions.

Patchy rain showers gave team bosses headaches all afternoon, messing with pitting strategies and throwing cars from the track.

But the weather had nothing to do with Whincup losing ground in the championship.

Whincup finished 13th when co-driver Paul Dumbrell was served a drive-through penalty for slipping his seatbelt off early.

Mark Winterbottom's title fight was also hit by a mistake by co-driver Dean Canto, who slipped off the track one lap before he was due to hand over.

Whincup slips seven points behind van Gisbergen, while Winterbottom's title defence could be over as he slipped to fifth, 346 points in arrears.

SANDOWN 500 RESULTS

1. Garth Tander and Warren Luff (Holden)

2. Shane van Gisbergen and Alex Premat (Holden)

3. Will Davison and Jonathon Webb (Holden)

4. Scott McLaughlin and David Wall (Volvo)

5. Chaz Mostert and Steve Owen (Ford)

SUPERCARS CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

1. Shane van Gisbergen (Holden) - 2248 points

2. Jamie Whincup (Holden) - 2241 (-7)

3. Craig Lowndes (Holden) - 2091 (-157)

4. Scott McLaughlin (Volvo) - 1989 (-259)

5. Mark Winterbottom (Ford) - 1902 (-346)

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