Lee Holdsworth claimed victory in the opening TCR Australia race of 2021, powering past fellow Alfa Romeo racer Jordan Cox to take the lead early on in the first race at Symmons Plains Raceway.
Holdsworth, contesting his first TCR race, had started the race from pole position but the Ashley Seward Motorsport driver was beaten by Cox when the lights went out and had to settle into second.
Holdsworth’s team-mate, youngster Jay Hanson, assumed third place behind the leading duo as Alfa cars locked out the top three places early in the race.
Keeping the pressure on Cox throughout the early laps, Holdsworth made his move for the lead on the Garry Rogers Motorsport driver on lap six, passing on the inside into the penultimate corner at Turn 6 to take the lead.
Cox remained within half a second of Holdsworth thereafter, but the internet sensation couldn’t mount an attack to reclaim the lead, having to settle for second.
Supercars regular Chaz Mostert had moved into third on lap four with a move on Hanson at the final corner, and ran in the final podium position for much of the race thereafter, but on lap 17 he was punted into a spin by rookie Hanson at the hairpin, dropping him down to seventh.
That meant that, on track at least, Hanson claimed the final podium place, completing an Alfa lock-out of the podium, although the incident with Mostert is under investigation by the stewards.
Josh Buchan was the leading Hyundai driver in fourth, the series rookie making solid progress up from ninth on the grid throughout the race.
Claiming fifth by the narrowest of margins was the Peugeot of GRM’s Aaron Cameron, who only just held on to the position from the recovering Mostert, who had edged his Audi RS3 alongside Cameron heading out of the final corner and missed out on the place by a mere 0.28 seconds.
Mostert thus claimed sixth in his first TCR race, having regained a position by passing fellow Audi racer Luke King just two laps after his spin.
King claimed seventh, ahead of the second Hyundai of Tilton Racing’s Brad Shiels in eighth, who beat the more experienced HMO Customer Racing Hyundai racer Nathan Morcom, who was ninth.
The top ten was completed by the Renault Mégane of James Moffat, who had lost out to Morcom just one lap before the finish.
Jason Bargwanna ran on the edge of the top ten for much of the race, eventually claiming 11th in his Peugeot 308, ahead of the recovering Alfa Romeo of Michael Caruso in 12th. GRM driver Caruso had been set to line up in fifth, but an issue with his starter motor meant he delayed the first start and started from the pitlane, the delay also preventing the race running to its originally scheduled distance of 25 laps.
Ben Gargwanna ran just behind his father for much of the race, but was pipped by Caruso late in the race and had to settle for 13th, ahead of the Renault of Dylan O’Keeffe in 14th.
All four Honda Civic drivers struggled for pace in the opening race, which saw all drivers finish the race. Wall Racing’s Tony D’Alberto was the best of the Japanese cars in 15th, ahead of the independent Civic of Michael Clemente in 16th, John Martin in 17th and Zac Soutar in 18th.
Race two is scheduled to get underway on Tuesday 26 January at 11:13 local time (00:13 GMT).