Dylan O’Keeffe scored victory in the opening TCR Australia race at Phillip Island, as the Alfa Romeo driver stayed out of trouble to avoid the dramas behind him in an eventful first race of the weekend.
O’Keeffe started the race from pole position after topping the times in qualifying earlier in the day, and the Ashley Seward Motorsport driver saw off his only real challenge for the lead on the opening lap when second-row starter Tony D’Alberto had a look into the fast first corner.
D’Alberto’s Honda then came under pressure from the Hyundai of Will Brown, who had started third, at Turn 2, but the championship leader then went off the circuit through the gravel, dropping Brown to the back of the pack.
A safety car intervention was then required on lap two due to contact between the Honda of John Martin and the Hyundai of Nathan Morcom, with the latter retiring to the pits.
Racing resumed on lap four and O’Keeffe made a good restart, whilst behind Andre Heimgartner, running in third in the Subaru after passing Jason Bright’s Volkswagen at the restart, came under pressure from the latter.
Bright hit Heimgartner at the exit of Turn 2 on lap six, pitching the Subaru sideways and collecting the unlucky Jimmy Vernon, who speared off the circuit in his Alfa Romeo. The incident saw the end of Bright’s race, whilst Heimgartner was able to continue at the back of the field as the safety car was again called upon.
Another two lap safety car pause followed, and when racing again resumed on lap nine O’Keeffe once again made a good restart.
The battle for second was then between the Renault of James Moffat and the recovering Hyundai of Brown, who had made up several places in the mêlée when Bright hit Heimgartner.
The duo battled for several laps, with Moffat defending hard, before Brown eventually found a way past at Siberia on the final lap to take second and maintain his points lead.
Moffat completed the podium and secured the second-ever podium result for the Renault Mégane RS in TCR competition.
D’Alberto brought his Wall Racing Honda home in fourth, ahead of the Audi of Garth Tander in fifth, the series newcomer having been as high as fourth on the opening lap before being hit by Bright on lap four and dropping to tenth before fighting back through the pack.
Hamish Ribartis was sixth in his Audi in his first TCR race, ahead of the best Holden Astra of Alex Rullo in seventh and the second Renault of Chris Pither in eighth.
Leanne Tander’s Audi and the recovering Subaru of Heimgartner completed the top ten in the shortened 13-lap race.
The second Kelly Racing Subaru of Molly Taylor retired to the pits after nine laps with apparent mechanical issues with her car.
Races two and three get underway at 13:10 and 14:20 local time on Sunday (05:10 and 06:20 CEST, 04:10 and 05:20 BST).
|1||9||Dylan O’KEEFFE||Ashley Seward Motorsport||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||13||27:19.6614||1:37.555||1|
|2||30||Will BROWN||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||13||4.981||1:37.083||2|
|3||34||James MOFFAT||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Renault Mégane RS TCR||13||5.529||1:38.064||6|
|4||50||Tony D’ALBERTO||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R TCR||13||5.764||1:38.372||4|
|5||4||Garth TANDER||Melbourne Performance||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||13||6.099||1:38.111||7|
|6||22||Hamish RIBARTIS||Melbourne Performance||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||13||6.328||1:37.983||11|
|7||62||Alex RULLO||Kelly Racing||Holden Astra TCR||13||8.479||1:38.875||13|
|8||33||Chris PITHER||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Renault Mégane RS TCR||13||9.606||1:39.171||10|
|9||3||Leanne TANDER||Melbourne Performance||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||13||9.876||1:38.306||14|
|10||777||Andre HEIMGARTNER||Kelly Racing||Subaru WRX STi||13||11.354||1:38.312||9|
|11||35||Alexandra WHITLEY||Alliance Autosport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||13||18.847||1:40.257||16|
|12||16||Aaron CAMERON||Melbourne Performance||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||13||25.189||1:38.558||18|
|13||24||John MARTIN||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R TCR||12||+ 1 LAP||1:44.762||5|
|R||37||Chelsea ANGELO||Kelly Racing||Holden Astra TCR||10||DNF||1:41.559||17|
|R||6||Molly TAYLOR||Kelly Racing||Subaru WRX STi||5||DNF||1:40.630||15|
|R||8||Jason BRIGHT||Taskforce / Alliance Autosport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||5||DNF||1:37.993||3|
|R||7||Jimmy VERNON||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||0||DNF||1:38.748||12|
|R||11||Nathan MORCOM||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||0||DNF||N/A||8|