TCR Australia @ Symmons Plains- Two out of three for Sweeny in the season opener

02.03.2023: Bailey Sweeny and Aaron Cameron have split the three wins at the TCR Australia opener at Symmons Plains between them, with Sweeny leaving the circuit with the lead of the drivers’ championship.

Bailey Sweeny and Aaron Cameron have split the three wins at the TCR Australia opener at Symmons Plains between them, with Sweeny leaving the circuit with the lead of the drivers’ championship.

2019 champion Will Brown, driving a new Audi RS 3 LMS, had set the pace in qualifying ahead of Hyundai driver Josh Buchan, but neither would be able start on the front row, with Brown ruled out after breaking a driveshaft in qualifying, and Buchan excluded due to exceeding the boost limit.

Race 1 – Promoted to the pole position, Sweeny managed to fend off a charge from Aaron Cameron into the first corner and led the race, with reigning champion Tony D’Alberto slotting into second. Sweeny pulled out over a seven second lead on D’Alberto by the finish, while Kody Garland scored his first podium in third.

Buchan battled back from the tail end of the grid to finish sixth, dicing throughout the race with Jordan Cox, once briefly getting ahead at Turn 6 on lap 21, before Cox was able to retake the position at the same corner a lap later. After the race, Cameron was dropped from fifth to seventh by a 10-second penalty for jump start.

Race 2 – The second-generation Audi cars of Will Brown and Zac Soutar had made a local repair to their driveshafts overnight and were back on the grid. Michael Clemente started from pole position in the first-generation Audi but made a slow start and dropped to fourth behind Lachlan Mineeff, Cameron and Tom Oliphant.

 The two drivers on the move were Cox and Brown, with Cox moving up to third place by lap four after starting sixth. Brown was flying up the order, and was up to Cox by lap seven, diving down the inside at Turn 6 and looked set to close up on the leading pair and fight for victory, before Brown’s driveshaft repair failed, and he was forced to retire from the race.

Mineeff and Cameron were now locked in an exciting battle for the lead, but Cameron eventually made a move stick down the inside of Mineeff at the hairpin on lap 11, and went on to win the race by over three seconds ahead of the Audi driver, with Cox completing the podium.

Race 3 – Sweeny was on pole position but had a poor start and dropped behind D’Alberto and Cox by the first corner. Sweeny was able to reclaim second place from Cox at Turn 6 on lap five and began to close on race leader D’Alberto. Behind, Cox and Cameron were involved in a thrilling battle for third, with Cameron getting ahead of Cox at the Turn 4 hairpin on lap seven, before Cox retook the position at Turn 6.

Four laps later, Cameron tried to dive past Cox again, this time at Turn 6, but ran wide and dropped to over a second behind and was unable to close back up to Cox again. Sweeny took the lead of the race with ten laps to go when D’Alberto began experiencing an intermittent gear change problem and lost pace. The Hyundai driver went on to win the race by nearly four seconds ahead of D’Alberto, with Cox completing the podium.

Sweeny now leads the championship with 137 points, 14 clear of D’Alberto, and 18 clear of Cameron, as there’s a long break until the second round of the championship at Phillip Island on May 12/14.

Symmons Plains – Race 1
1. B. Sweeny (HMO Customer Racing, Hyundai i30 N), 30 laps
2. T. D’Alberto (Honda Wall Racing, Honda Civic Type R Fk7), 7.6491
3. K. Garland (Valvoline Racing GRM, Peugeot 308), 12.5092

Symmons Plains – Race 2
1. A. Cameron (Team Valvoline GRM, Peugeot 308), 22 laps
2. L. Mineeff (Forza Brakes Motorsport, Audi RS 3 LMS), 3.1007
3. J. Cox (Schaeffler GRM, Peugeot 308), 4.2688

Symmons Plains – Race 3
1. B. Sweeny (HMO Customer Racing, Hyundai i30 N), 30 laps
2. T. D’Alberto (Honda Wall Racing, Honda Civic Type R Fk7), 3.6730
3. J. Cox (Schaeffler GRM, Peugeot 308), 10.1791

Championship points
1. B. Sweeny 137 pts; 2. T. D’Alberto 123; 3. A. Cameron 119

 Fabio Ravaioli - photo TCR Australia


02.03.2023 / MaP

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