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Leanne Tander spearheads Sonic Formula Ford Series assault

Celebrated circuit racer Leanne Tander will spearhead an all-new Formula Ford Series line-up for Sonic Motor Racing Services in 2016.

Sonic Principal Michael Ritter was delighted to welcome the versatile now mother of two into the 2016 program admitting that he was already pleased with the single test session they’d completed together.

“This is an exciting time for Sonic. Leanne’s a terrific racer and I’m pleased to see that she’s going all out for this in 2016. I think we can really help her achieve her goals and I’m glad that we can allow her the freedom and the infrastructure to do it.”

For Tander the move to Sonic makes sense on a number of levels.

“We simply don’t have time to do this on our own,” she concedes, “with Garth’s Supercar program being so busy and with family commitments we have with our two children the idea of my racing program being in-house with Tandersport and us doing it all isn’t feasible anymore. With their experience, data and win record in Formula Ford the natural choice was always going to be Sonic.”

Garth Tander concurs.

“When you look back over the years Sonic has been the leading Formula Ford contenders and they know the industry, the logistics and the cars themselves inside out. Working with Mick and Maria and their team makes a lot of sense for us, I think Leanne will learn a tremendous amount this year.”

For Leanne the idea of continuing Formula Ford using her own car from last season but moving in under the Sonic umbrella has already netted results.

“We’ve already had one test session so far and I was really happy with the way the team worked with me. It’s a relaxed but still focused and determined atmosphere. I feel really comfortable with the way it will all come together. I’ve got a good feeling about this.”

Combining significant experience in V8 Supercars, F3 (in which she narrowly missed out on winning two championships by the barest of margins), Touring Car Masters, Improved Production Car Championship success (2005) and Australian Production Car Championship success (2005) and Formula Ford (1998-2000 and then in 2015) Leanne has also been a busy woman raising two young children.

The new arrangement with Sonic allows her to focus solely on her racing program on the respective series weekends.

“I’m racing against kids half my age in many instances and I’m pretty sure that all they’re thinking about on track is winning races not whether their five year old has had lunch yet,” laughs Tander, “this year I can rely on Garth minding the children while I work on times and track position.”

Make no mistake, Tander’s determination and desire to win Championships has not waned in the years she’s been away from the racing game.

“Perhaps there’s been a belief from some corners that I left the racing game and wasn’t returning when Garth and I had our children but mentally I’ve always wanted to come back when the kids were old enough and that’s what we’re doing this year. I’m not gridding up to make the numbers, I want to win races.”

“You can tell she’s got the drive,” says Ritter, “she’s hungry to learn and win races. She’s a class act. Racing with Leanne makes a lot of sense for us. We have a long history with she and Garth and I can’t wait to get started in Sandown to be honest. I think her younger rivals are going to be very surprised. There might be some egos shot down pretty quick.”

Tander will be the only national series driver for Sonic but they will however (as they have in the past) bring two exciting new teenagers into the game through the state level Victorian domestic series competition.

“This year we welcome South Australian Max Vidau and Victorian Jamie Westaway to the Sonic family,” Ritter explains, “they’re both straight out of karting with Vidau also having some dirt experience. They’re both fast and we’re keen to start working with them. The boys will run the Victorian Series and maybe the occasional National Series round but at this stage our focus for them is State series action. The Westaway and Vidau families are keen to give their boys the best chance and so are we. It’s going to be a great year.”

The 2016 Australian Formula Ford Series will kick off at Sandown Motor Raceway on April 1-3.

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