Will Brown won the final TCR Australia race of the season at Bathurst, but overall drivers’ title glory went to his season-long rival Tony D’Alberto, despite taking the chequered flag outside the top ten.
Brown was D’Alberto’s closest rival going into the race after the cancellation of the weekend’s second race earlier in the day due to heavy rain and fog at Mount Panorama.
It meant the grid was decided by the finishing order of race one, skipping the usual reverse-grid format which would have likely aided D’Alberto’s main title rivals Brown and Jordan Cox going into the race.
At the start, GRM’s Dylan O’Keeffe took the lead from pole-sitter Bailey Sweeny at the first corner, but the Peugeot driver, who had team-mate Aaron Cameron behind him running to Turn 2, then went wide and crashed into the tyre barrier.
That allowed Cameron to assume the lead ahead of HMO Customer Racing’s Nathan Morcom, with Brown circulating in a more distant third in his Melboune Performance Centre-run Audi in the opening laps.
On the fifth lap there was contact between Morcom and Cameron at The Chase, resulting in front-right damage to the pursuing Hyundai and right-rear tyre rubbing on Cameron’s Peugeot.
The damage to Morcom’s Hyundai left him as a sitting duck, and Brown was able to capitalise by taking second at Forrest’s Elbow a lap later, followed by HMO’s Bailey Sweeny into third.
Having then closed in on Cameron, Brown pulled off a superb pass on the leading Peugeot into The Chase on lap eight to take the lead – and temporarily the championship lead, with D’Alberto down in 14th at this stage.
However, when Jordan Cox picked up damage on his Peugeot a lap later, having been running in eighth, it promoted D’Alberto a place and swung the title pendulum back to the Honda racer.
The safety car was called for on lap 13 when Ben Bargwanna’s Peugeot stopped at The Dipper, resulting in a five-lap sprint to the finish at the end.
On the restart lap, Brown went slightly wide at The Chase, allowing Sweeny, who got by Cameron for second two laps before the safety car, to punce and take the lead.
Sweeny then led for four laps before a mistake on the last tour allowed Brown back into the lead on the mountain section.
Brown ultimately won the race – his first of the season after having been stripped of his Sandown win earlier in the year – but it wasn’t enough to clinch the title, the 2019 champion missing out by just two points to D’Alberto.
Race one winner Sweeny held on to second, whilst team-mate Josh Buchan in the Hyundai Elantra, who had started the race from ninth on the grid but picked his way steadily up the order in the opening half of the race to sit fourth by lap ten, completed the podium, having nipped past Cameron going into The Chase on the final lap.
Cameron thus took fourth, ahead of a season-best result for Lachlan Mineeff in fifth.
Morcom limped home in sixth, ahead of Frenchman Teddy Clairet in seventh, the Peugeot racer having a relatively quiet race.
Luke King brought his independent Hyundai home in eighth, whilst the top ten was completed by Ashley Seward Motorsport’s Michael Caruso and the independent Audi of Michael Clemente.
New champion D’Alberto was 11th, having dropped as low as 14th by lap seven before re-passing the Audi of Iain McDougall.
D’Alberto thus clinched the title by just two points from Brown, with Cox ending the year third overall, after finishing a lap down in the race in 14th.
|1||999||Will BROWN||MPC Team Liqui Moly||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||19||45:51.0010||2:14.839||6|
|2||130||Bailey SWEENY||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||19||1.4633||2:14.705||1|
|3||30||Josh BUCHAN||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||19||1.7101||2:14.820||9|
|4||18||Aaron CAMERON||Team Valvoline GRM||Peugeot 308 TCR||19||1.9390||2:15.415||4|
|5||14||Lachlan MINEEFF||Purple Sector||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||19||2.1802||2:15.215||7|
|6||11||Nathan MORCOM||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||19||2.9066||2:15.130||3|
|7||20||Teddy CLAIRET||Peugeot Sport GRM||Peugeot 308 TCR||19||4.0573||2:15.377||8|
|8||2||Luke KING||MOUTAI / Zip Pay||Hyundai i30 N TCR||19||4.2592||2:15.258||17|
|9||10||Michael CARUSO||Ashley Seward Motorsport||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||19||6.9465||2:15.794||10|
|10||15||Michael CLEMENTE||Michael Clemente Motorsport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||19||8.9771||2:16.136||13|
|11||50||Tony D’ALBERTO||Honda Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||19||9.2716||2:15.814||11|
|12||22||Iain MCDOUGALL||Melbourne Performance Centre||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||19||10.2807||2:16.412||15|
|13||41||Kody GARLAND||Valvoline Racing GRM||Renault Mégane RS TCR||19||10.4704||2:16.292||12|
|14||33||Jordan COX||Swyftx GRM||Peugeot 308 TCR||18||+ 1 LAP||2:15.760||14|
|R||110||Zac SOUTAR||Team Soutar Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||18||DNF||2:16.996||19|
|R||8||Dylan O’KEEFFE||Schaeffler GRM||Peugeot 308 TCR||16||DNF||2:17.370||2|
|R||71||Ben BARGWANNA||Burson Auto Parts Racing||Peugeot 308 TCR||11||DNF||2:15.500||5|
|R||34||James MOFFAT||LCMT+ Racing GRM||Renault Mégane RS TCR||4||DNF||2:18.022||16|
|NS||9||Jay HANSON||AWC MPC Racing||Audi RS3 LMS TCR II||–||DNS||N/A||18|