James Bergmuller believes the addition of V8 Supercars champion Garth Tander to his team for the upcoming Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Pro-Am at Sydney Motorsport Park will help build on his already strong start to the 2016 season.
The Melbourne based racer sits fifth in the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge standings, however is only 27 points behind second in the class after the two highly competitive rounds that commenced the season.
The Victorian explained the process of signing someone of Tander’s ability for the Porsche Rennsport event.
“Last time we had Alex Davison driving with me, but he’s now driving full time in the category so I went to Steve Richards (who’s team prepares Bergmuller’s car) and asked if he knew anyone from the V8 Supercars scene who would be keen,” said Bergmuller.
“He’s mates with GT who jumped at it when he was asked. Garth tested the car at Sydney last week and was happy with it straight away – he was also very fast.”
Tander will be one of several V8 Supercars full-timers joining the Carrera Cup grid for the Porsche Pro-Am event; the field to include the likes of Lee Holdsworth, Michael Caruso, Nick Percat and Tim Slade.
Bergmuller says he enjoys the opportunity to see someone else steering the car he usually races solo throughout the remainder of the Carrera Cup calendar.
“It’s bizarre when you’re standing in pit lane and watch your own car drive out on to the track, but I love it,” he said.
“Anytime you get someone who’s a better driver than you in the car you learn something. You’re always learning in this game and I’ve been teammates with Steve for a while and I know how he thinks and how he drives.
“Another driver like Garth will look at it a bit differently which can only help.
“He drove the car at Sydney Motorsport Park last week and it was the first time that he’d ever driven a GT3 Cup car, but he banked a great time.”
After being on the back foot for much of the early stages of the 2015 season, Bergmuller’s strong start to the 2016 TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge has him in a positive mindset ahead of the third round of the championship in Sydney.
“I have had a good start. At Clipsal we got third and at the F1 round we were fast and just missed out on getting pole to Bates,” he explained.
“Unfortunately we had the speed but couldn’t quite consolidate the result but it’s good to be quick.
“It’s great to get into the car when you’re feeling good and you can bank a time without overdriving the car.
“I love the format at Rennsport. Last year we had pace but got punted on the first lap so there are expectations for this year that we’ll be able to go pretty well.”
Now entering his 26th Porsche Carrera Cup Australia round, Bergmuller said he was also warming to the virtues of Sydney Motorsport Park as well.
“It’s funny because it’s been a track where in Formula Ford and Development Series I never really liked,” Bergmuller explained.
“I’ve found in the Cup car that I’ve been there more and more and got more comfortable there. We’ve had a few days testing which have been really good. The place suits the cars, like Phillip Island, so I think it’s going to be good.”