Tander takes a shot at the Grand Slam
The V8 Supercars competition hotted up with a $2 million bounty announced for any driver that can win the newly-created ‘Grand Slam’ in a season. Following Garth Tander’s win at Clipsal, is there any chance of him completing the Slam?
The $2 million cash bonus is on offer to any driver who can win four races, the Clipsal 500, the Bathurst 1000, the Gold Coast SuperCarnivale and the Sydney Telstra 500. Adrian Musolino delivered an excellent preview on The Roar of the Grand Slam and the importance of continuing to push V8s into the mainstream for the sport.
The competition is also looking to move away from the hardcore/bogan Ford vs Holden types with the possible addition of Mercedes and ongoing efforts to encourage a family atmosphere and bring the fairer sex into the sport.
It must be said that despite the appeal of the $2 million riches on offer, it’s more promotional stunt than anything else, and doesn’t serve a great deal of purpose for fans at the track.
Besides, no one really thinks it will be possible. The riches offered in Horse Racing for the Global Sprint Challenge encourages owners and trainers to send their horses to international events to create better racing.
So will better driving and more excitement be on offer following the creation of the Grand Slam?
Not according to the drivers themselves.
Their motivation is little changed. Jamie Whincup noted “What’s more important? Without doubt, definitely the championship. $2.5 million – plenty of people have that in the world, but not many people have a V8 Supercar championship.”
All drivers are looking to win the big races, especially Bathurst.
Now that Garth Tander has won, the gloss is taken off the prize a little. There’s only one contender, and should he not take out Bathurst, the prize is gone and the interest is gone.
Perhaps a more interesting format might be to have a wider pool of drivers in with a chance, along with a reduced cash prize so as to avoid the chance of a winner hurting the coffers of the sport.
A process of elimination – such as a podium at Clipsal, must win at Bathurst (it being the most important race in the calendar), podium on the Gold Coast and podium at Sydney to take out the prize might offer more excitement.
This does, however, run the risk of taking the gloss off the championship.
The other issue is the attempt to legitimise the Sydney 500 race by including it in the Grand Slam – the Olympic Park race being a new addition to the calendar and having none of the history of the endurance races at Sandown or Phillip Island.
V8s need Sydney to be big, and that was evidenced by the large advertising push before the event. The race itself mostly did it justice, with many incidents as the drivers got to grips with the tight street track.
A true measure of success will come this year in the second running to see if the fans return in the same numbers.
All in all, Garth Tander has to get up Mt. Panorama to continue the dream, but might find it and the rest of the Grand Slam more like Mt. Everest.
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