Wall Racing’s Tony D’Alberto finally claimed his first victory in TCR Australia in the opening race at Quensland Raceway, comfortably leading home a Honda 1-2 ahead of Zac Soutar.
After scoring his first pole position of the season earlier in the day, Honda’s D’Alberto controlled the opening race in Ipswich to win and extend his championship lead to 50 points.
Independent Honda driver Soutar was second, having settled into the position early on in the race and whilst lacking the pace to challenge D’Alberto he had enough speed to pull clear of his nearest challenger.
Melbourne Performance Centre’s Jay Hanson completed the podium, the Audi driver making two places at the start when both Will Brown and Bailey Sweeny went off-track in separate incidents.
When the lights went out, it was D’Alberto who moved into a clear lead ahead of Soutar, whilst exiting the first corner behind him Sweeny made contact with Aaron Cameron’s Peugeot, pitching the Hyundai into a huge slide into the infield of the circuit, rejoining in 12th.
Temporarily that gave Brown third, but the Audi driver went off into the gravel further around the lap, dropping him to 15th.
Both GRM’s Cameron and Ben Bargwanna were big gainers at the start, making up four places, but the order would change after the first third of the race.
On lap six, HMO Customer Racing’s Nathan Morcom muscled past Bargwanna for sixth, but the two made contact at Turn 5 and with a damaged car, Bargwanna found himself unable to stop his car under braking for the final corner, spearing into Morcom’s Hyundai.
Both drivers were out of the race on the spot, whilst the incident also cost Morcom’s team-mate Josh Buchan three places as he was forced wide, allowing Jordan Cox, Michael Clemente and Lachlan Mineeff through and dropping him to tenth where he would otherwise have been up to eighth.
The race had to be neutralised for five laps to recover the cars, with the action resuming on lap 13.
No change at the front came thereafter, with D’Alberto winning ahead of Soutar and Hanson.
Cameron claimed fourth, ahead of the recovering Sweeny, who had dropped to 12th on the opening lap but was already back up to eighth before the safety car period.
Luke King came under heavy pressure late in the race, after Sweeny got by on lap 15, but the independent Hyundai driver came home in sixth, ahead of Cox’s Peugeot in seventh.
Clemente claimed eighth, whilst the top ten was completed by Brown and Buchan, giving the latter the reverse-grid pole position for Sunday’s second race.
Mineeff was 11th, ahead of Ashley Seward Motorsport’s Michael Caruso in 12th, the Alfa Romeo driver having slowed on the opening lap and dropped six places in the process.
Kody Garland failed to make the start, having pulled his Renault off to the side after the formation lap with power steering issues, which also forced the field to abort the first start and take to another formation lap.
His GRM team-mate James Moffat then pitted on the first lap with boost pressure issues on his car, a recurring theme for him in the weekend thus far.
Race two gets underway at 12:10 AEST (03:10 BST, 04:10 CEST) on Sunday.
|1||50||Tony D’ALBERTO||Honda Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||18||26:24.7521||1:14.086||1|
|2||110||Zac SOUTAR||Team Soutar Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||18||0.920||1:14.097||2|
|3||9||Jay HANSON||AWC MPC Racing||Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021||18||1.468||1:13.963||5|
|4||18||Aaron CAMERON||Team Valvoline GRM||Peugeot 308 TCR||18||4.381||1:14.655||8|
|5||130||Bailey SWEENY||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||18||4.672||1:14.257||4|
|6||2||Luke KING||MOUTAI / Zip Pay||Hyundai i30 N TCR||18||7.924||1:14.421||7|
|7||33||Jordan COX||Swyftx GRM||Peugeot 308 TCR||18||8.366||1:14.710||16|
|8||15||Michael CLEMENTE||Michael Clemente Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||18||9.144||1:14.778||14|
|9||999||Will BROWN||MPC Team Liqui Moly||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||18||9.620||1:14.052||3|
|10||30||Josh BUCHAN||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||18||10.651||1:14.945||12|
|11||14||Lachlan MINEEFF||Purple Sector||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||18||11.010||1:14.641||11|
|12||10||Michael CARUSO||Ashley Seward Motorsport||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||18||11.216||1:14.579||10|
|13||8||Dylan O’KEEFFE||Schaeffler GRM||Peugeot 308 TCR||18||11.286||1:14.877||15|
|14||22||Iain MCDOUGALL||Melbourne Performance Centre||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||18||16.271||1:15.629||18|
|R||71||Ben BARGWANNA||Burson Auto Parts Racing||Peugeot 308 TCR||5||DNF||1:14.723||9|
|R||11||Nathan MORCOM||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||5||DNF||1:14.672||6|
|R||34||James MOFFAT||LCMT+ Racing GRM||Renault Mégane RS TCR||3||DNF||1:16.898||17|
|R||41||Kody GARLAND||Valvoline Racing GRM||Renault Mégane RS TCR||0||DNF||N/A||13|