Néstor Girolami completed a perfect weekend in his first TCR Australia outing, winning race three at Sandown Raceway ahead of Garth Tander and Andre Heimgartner as HMO’s Will Brown secured the drivers’ title a round early.
Girolami once again completed a dominant lights-to-flag victory, as the rest of the pack fought ferociously behind him.
Girolami’s Honda team-mate Tony D’Alberto initially moved up to second when the lights went out, but Tander then took second on lap two as D’Alberto struggled to keep pace with Girolami at the front.
D’Alberto then acted as a cork in the bottle in third, holding up a chasing pack of Aaron Cameron, Jason Bright, Bryce Fullwood and Heimgartner.
Fullwood and Bright got past Cameron for fourth and fifth on lap four, whilst Heimgartner then took Bright for fifth on lap six.
D’Alberto continued to hold the pack up for another seven laps until Heimgartner passed him at Turn 1, having got past his team-mate a couple of laps earlier.
The order in the top five would remain unchanged thereafter, despite Tander’s best efforts in cutting the margin to Girolami at the front.
By finishing third, Heimgartner scored his first podium in the series, ahead of D’Alberto in fourth and Bright in fifth, after Fullwood made a mistake with two laps to go.
UPDATE: Heimgartner was subsequently handed a post-race 15-second penalty for having been adjudged to have passed D’Alberto under yellow flags, handing third to D’Alberto and dropping Heimgartner to eighth.
Jordan Cox had initially got into fifth late in the race after passing Bright on lap 17, but the Alfa Romeo driver went off on the final lap.
Fullwood took sixth, ahead of Melbourne Performance’s Cameron in seventh.
Brown, knowing he could secure the title in this race, had a nightmare first lap, as the Hyundai driver spun out at Turn 3 on the opening lap and dropped to the very back of the pack. He then put in a spirited drive to recover to eighth to secure the title with a round to spare.
GRM’s James Moffat started the race in third but slipped back early on and took the chequered flag in ninth, whilst Nathan Morcom completed the top ten.
After picking up accident damage in race two, neither John Martin nor Russell Ingall took the start in race three.
Brown (623 points) secured the title by a comfortable 142 points from O’Keeffe (481 points), who has to fight to hold on to second from D’Alberto (469 points).
The final round of TCR Australia takes place at The Bend Motorsport Park on 15 – 17 November.
Amended race result
|1||38||Néstor GIROLAMI||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R TCR||20||25:17.9768||1:14.966||1|
|2||4||Garth TANDER||Melbourne Performance||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||20||0.467||1:15.085||2|
|3||50||Tony D’ALBERTO||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R TCR||20||4.556||1:14.718||4|
|4||8||Jason BRIGHT||Taskforce / Alliance Autosport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||20||7.460||1:14.994||6|
|5||37||Bryce FULLWOOD||Kelly Racing||Holden Astra TCR||20||7.816||1:14.863||9|
|6||16||Aaron CAMERON||Melbourne Performance||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||20||10.091||1:15.087||5|
|7||30||Will BROWN||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||20||16.936||1:14.686||7|
|8||777||Andre HEIMGARTNER||Kelly Racing||Holden Astra TCR||20||17.760||1:14.762||12|
|9||34||James MOFFAT||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Renault Mégane RS TCR||20||24.660||1:15.212||3|
|10||11||Nathan MORCOM||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||20||42.134||1:15.497||14|
|11||9||Dylan O’KEEFFE||Ashley Seward Motorsport||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||20||1:13.989||1:16.704||8|
|12||97||Liam MCADAM||Melbourne Performance||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||18||+ 2 LAPS||1:16.432||10|
|R||38||Jordan COX||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||19||DNF||1:14.618||13|
|R||35||Alexandra WHITLEY||Melbourne Performance||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||11||DNF||1:17.347||16|
|NS||33||Chris PITHER||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Renault Mégane RS TCR||–||DNS||N/A||11|
|NS||24||John MARTIN||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R TCR||–||DNS||N/A||15|
|NS||100||Russell INGALL||Melbourne Performance||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||–||DNS||N/A||17|