Michael Caruso denied Josh Buchan a treble and claimed his maiden win in the TCR Australia series in race three at Sydney Motorsport Park, which was heavily interrupted by two safety car interventions.
Caruso started the race from fourth on the grid but shot into the lead at the start with a lightning getaway, jumping past race one and two winner Josh Buchan and fellow front-row starter Chaz Mostert in the process.
The race was then neutralised after less than a lap of racing when Jason Bargwanna ran into the back of Michael Clemente’s Honda on the starting grid, after Clemente stalled and Bargwanna was unable to quite avoid clipping the Civic, sustaining damage to his right-rear wheel in the process.
It took three laps behind the safety car before racing resumed again on lap five, but the action was once again short-lived after Aaron Cameron, then running in ninth, was pitched into the inside wall on the exit of Turn 1 and the approach to Turn 2.
Cameron was running in close convoy behind the Audi of Luke King, with the Alfa Romeo of Lee Holdsworth immediately behind.
Holdsworth appeared to tap Cameron, who in turn touched King, but it was Cameron who was pitched off the road at speed into the barriers, sustaining heavy damage to the front of his Peugeot 308.
Another four laps of safety car intervention followed, with racing initially set to resume after just three laps behind the safety car before Holdsworth then also stopped on track, with damage to the front of his car from the incident with Cameron possibly causing the issue.
The race finally got underway again on lap 10, but due to the stoppages only two laps of action followed due to the race being time-limited.
Caruso initially made a very good restart, but by the end of lap 10 he was under heavy pressure from Buchan’s Hyundai once again.
The pressure eased on the following lap when Buchan himself came under pressure from the Renault of Dylan O’Keeffe, who had passed Nathan Morcom for the final podium position at the restart into Turn 1.
O’Keeffe’s pressure on Buchan ultimately gave Caruso the space he needed to maintain his lead and claim a first win in the series, ahead of Buchan and O’Keeffe.
O’Keeffe had looked set to make up for his race one disappointment after taking pole position on Saturday by claiming a first podium of the season, but he was handed a post-race five-second penalty for overlapping Morcom during the safety car restart.
Morcom thus claimed third with O’Keeffe classified in fourth, ahead of the second Renault of James Moffat in fifth and King’s MPC Audi in sixth.
Championship leader Chaz Mostert was just seventh in his Audi, representing his second-worst result of the season, after losing out to King at the end of the race.
Jordan Cox brought his GRM Alfa Romeo home in eighth, with Ben Bargwanna and Tony D’Alberto completing the top ten in their Peugeot and Honda cars respectively.
Mostert (350 points) now leads King (344) by 106 points, with Buchan (335) up to third a further nine points adrift. Cameron, who had been second heading into the weekend, drops to fourth.
The next TCR Australia event takes place at Morgan Park Raceway on 24 – 26 June.