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Aaron Cameron wins rain-affected opening Sandown encounter

Aaron Cameron claimed victory in the opening TCR Australia race at Sandown, which had been the first race of the day in Melbourne due to heavy rain affecting the schedule.

Conditions proved to be extremely tricky from the off, with Lachlan Minneeff spinning his Audi even on the warmup lap, prompting a visit to the pits before the lights went out.

When the lights then did go out, it was Cameron who leapt into the lead ahead of pole-sitter Jay Hanson, who had dropped to third in his Audi behind 2019 champion Will Brown.

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Cameron built up a small advantage in the early laps, but the Peugeot driver’s lead was wiped out on lap six when GRM Peugeot team-mate Dylan O’Keeffe stopped on the back straight with a technical issue on his car.

After two laps behind the safety car, racing resumed on lap eight and Hanson immediately pounced on Brown for second at Turn 2, gaining the place and setting about catching leader Cameron.

He did so by posting the fastest lap of the race in the process, and in the now-shortened 12-lap race he caught Cameron by the last lap, after another late-race safety car, and tried to make a move for the lead at the high-speed Turn 6.

However, Hanson slid into Cameron and the two lightly touched side-by-side, unsettling the Audi and sending Hanson spinning off sideways at high-speed and out of the race.

Cameron had to cut the grass in the process but held on to the lead and went on to seal his third win of the season, a second and a half in front of Brown.

Zac Soutar completed the podium as the top Honda driver, having held the fourth place he qualified in during the early stages.

Championship leader Tony D’Alberto was fourth, the Wall Racing Honda driver getting past the Hyundai of Luke King at the start, who later retired further around the lap due to a failed driveshaft – the source of his poor getaway.

HMO Customer Racing’s Josh Buchan had a race-long fight with GRM’s Jordan Cox, with Hyundai racer Buchan prevailing in fifth ahead of the Alfa Romeo of Ashley Seward Motorsport’s Michael Caruso in sixth.

Cox took the chequered flag in seventh, having failed to follow Buchan up the order in the closing laps.

HMO’s Bailey Sweeny was eighth, with the top ten completed by James Moffat from the back of the grid, the Renault driver gaining eight places on the opening lap, and Ben Bargwanna, who thus starts from pole position for race two.

Michael Clemente finished last on the road in 15th after being the cause of the second safety car period when Kody Garland clattered into him at Turn 1 and forced him onto the muddy grass, where he became stuck and needed recovery assistance.

Race two is scheduled to get underway at 12:55 local time (04:55 CEST, 03:55 BST).

Race result

1 18 Aaron CAMERON Team Valvoline GRM Peugeot 308 TCR 12 20:55.6988 1:22.195 2
2 999 Will BROWN MPC Team Liqui Moly Audi RS3 LMS TCR 12 1.641 1:22.194 5
3 110 Zac SOUTAR Team Soutar Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 12 2.391 1:22.897 4
4 50 Tony D’ALBERTO Honda Wall Racing Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 12 2.950 1:23.041 6
5 30 Josh BUCHAN HMO Customer Racing Hyundai i30 N TCR 12 3.161 1:22.478 10
6 10 Michael CARUSO Ashley Seward Motorsport Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 12 3.779 1:23.039 8
7 33 Jordan COX Swyftx GRM Peugeot 308 TCR 12 4.205 1:23.421 11
8 130 Bailey SWEENY HMO Customer Racing Hyundai i30 N TCR 12 4.762 1:22.822 9
9 34 James MOFFAT LCMT+ Racing GRM Renault Mégane RS TCR 12 5.111 1:23.672 18
10 71 Ben BARGWANNA Burson Auto Parts Racing Peugeot 308 TCR 12 5.300 1:23.334 14
11 14 Lachlan MINEEFF Purple Sector Audi RS3 LMS TCR 12 6.590 1:23.250 12
12 11 Nathan MORCOM HMO Customer Racing Hyundai i30 N TCR 12 8.250 1:24.348 13
13 41 Kody GARLAND Valvoline Racing GRM Renault Mégane RS TCR 12 8.854 1:24.353 16
14 22 Iain MCDOUGALL Melbourne Performance Centre Audi RS3 LMS TCR 12 9.001 1:24.263 17
15 15 Michael CLEMENTE Michael Clemente Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 11 + 1 LAP 1:24.217 15
R 9 Jay HANSON AWC MPC Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 11 DNF 1:21.933 1
R 8 Dylan O’KEEFFE Schaeffler GRM Peugeot 308 TCR 3 DNF 1:23.487 7
R 2 Luke KING MOUTAI / Zip Pay Hyundai i30 N TCR 0 DNF N/A 3
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