Wall Racing’s Néstor Girolami took victory from pole position in the second TCR Australia race at Sandown, as Garth Tander and James Moffat completed the podium in a hectic race.
At the start Girolami once again got off to a good getaway, as fellow front-row starter Will Brown dropped to sixth, with Jordan Cox initially providing the stiffest challenge to Girolami.
The second lap saw Bryce Fullwood tap Nathan Morcom’s Hyundai into the gravel at Turn 9, with the HMO driver needing assistance to continue in the race.
At the start of the third lap Russell Ingall, who had hauled himself from 12th on the grid to sixth with a pass on Garth Tander just a few corners earlier, lost control of his Audi under braking for Turn 1, making contact with the barriers and retiring from the race.
The safety car came out for five laps to enable the cars of Morcom and Ingall to be moved, and when racing resumed Cox tried to challenge Girolami for the lead, but instead came under pressure from James Moffat, John Martin and Brown for second.
Moffat moved into second after contact between Martin and Cox, then Tander repeated the move at Turn 2 on the following lap, with Martin then contacting Tander. The latter contact ended Martin’s race with a damaged front-right on his Honda, whilst in the melee Andre Heimgartner was able to move up into fifth.
The safety car was called again on lap ten when Alexandra Whitley stopped her Volkswagen at the start of the back straight, with racing resuming three laps later.
At the restart Moffat ran wide at the final turn, allowing Girolami a clean run as Cox had to check up to avoid passing the Renault before the finish line. Tander then moved into third when Cox went wide at Turn 1, before taking second at Turn 4.
The top three positions then remained unchanged, giving both Tander and Moffat their fourth podium finishes of the year.
Cox had looked set to take fourth in his Alfa, but contact from Andre Heimgartner on the final lap at turn 4 took him out of contention. Heimgartner took the chequered flag in fourth but was handed a 30-second penalty after the race, dropping the Holden driver to 12th.
That meant the second Wall Racing Honda of Tony D’Alberto took fourth, from 15th on the grid, ahead of Melbourne Performance’s Aaron Cameron in fifth and team-mate Jason Bright in sixth.
Championship leader Brown was seventh, immediately ahead of title rival Dylan O’Keeffe in eighth, keeping the title fight alive for another race.
|1||38||Néstor GIROLAMI||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R TCR||16||27:56.5831||1:15.869||1|
|2||4||Garth TANDER||Melbourne Performance||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||16||1.586||1:16.003||4|
|3||34||James MOFFAT||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Renault Mégane RS TCR||16||4.108||1:16.796||7|
|4||50||Tony D’ALBERTO||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R TCR||16||6.197||1:16.544||15|
|5||16||Aaron CAMERON||Melbourne Performance||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||16||7.234||1:16.552||9|
|6||8||Jason BRIGHT||Taskforce / Alliance Autosport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||16||7.617||1:16.660||16|
|7||30||Will BROWN||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||16||7.847||1:16.439||2|
|8||9||Dylan O’KEEFFE||Ashley Seward Motorsport||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||16||9.198||1:16.668||8|
|9||37||Bryce FULLWOOD||Kelly Racing||Holden Astra TCR||16||9.404||1:17.066||13|
|10||97||Liam MCADAM||Melbourne Performance||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||16||9.729||1:16.484||6|
|11||33||Chris PITHER||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Renault Mégane RS TCR||16||15.634||1:18.034||11|
|12||777||Andre HEIMGARTNER||Kelly Racing||Holden Astra TCR||16||35.667||1:16.512||17|
|13||38||Jordan COX||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||16||1:06.720||1:16.146||3|
|14||11||Nathan MORCOM||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||15||+ 1 LAP||1:17.945||10|
|R||24||John MARTIN||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R TCR||8||DNF||1:16.481||5|
|R||35||Alexandra WHITLEY||Melbourne Performance||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||8||DNF||1:19.321||14|
|R||100||Russell INGALL||Melbourne Performance||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||2||DNF||1:17.864||12|