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Josh Buchan claims lights-to-flag win as dramas strike rivals

HMO Customer Racing’s Josh Buchan claimed a lights-to-flag win in the opening TCR Australia race at Phillip Island, as mechanical and tyre dramas struck his rivals.

Buchan had earlier claimed a dominant pole position in qualifying, topping both Q1 and Q2, including the all-important second session by over three tenths of a second from Zac Soutar’s independent Audi.

At the start, Buchan got away well from the lights, with Soutar slipping to third behind Tony D’Alberto’s Wall Racing Honda.

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Buchan’s HOM team-mate, championship leader Bailey Sweeny, had started from fourth, but the Hyundai i30 driver made a very poor start, dropping to eighth by the end of the opening lap.

As Buchan pulled into a comfortable lead, further back 2019 champion Will Brown was in strife by the end of the opening tour.

The MPC Audi driver suffered from a rear suspension upright failure, forcing him to pit and retire from the race and leaving him still to record a finish, four races into the season.

For much of the race, D’Alberto ran in second, until Lachlan Mineeff passed him into the hairpin three laps from the end. Then, going onto the penultimate lap, D’Alberto suffered from a front-right puncture at the first corner, forcing him to limp back to the pits, where he had insufficient time to avoid being lapped and classified as a non-finisher.

Completing the podium behind Buchan and Mineeff was Garry Rogers Motorsport’s Aaron Cameron, who had run sixth in the early stages, before passing Ben Bargwanna’s Peugeot with a bold move on lap nine through the opening corners of the lap.

By then, that had resulted in a podium place, as Soutar, then running in third, also had to retire to the pits. It means that so far this season, none of the second-generation Audis have finished any races, leaving Soutar in a lowly championship position along with Brown.

Sweeny recovered to fourth, following Cameron past Bargwanna on the ninth lap, with Bargwanna having to settle for fifth.

Michael Clemente took the chequered flag in sixth on the début for the CUPRA Leon Competición in the series, ahead of Kody Garland’s GRM Peugeot in seventh and team-mate Jordan Cox in eighth, the only other finishers on the lead lap.

Series rookie Brad Harris brought his Honda home in ninth, a lap down, whilst Ashley Seward Motorsport’s Tom Oliphant was the only other finisher in tenth.

Oliphant almost didn’t make the finish himself. After the Brit ran in tenth for the first half of the race, he pulled off on lap 12 with an apparent problem with his new Lynk & Co 03 TCR.

However, Oliphant took the car into the pits and later rejoined, allowing him to be classified as a finisher and claim the all-important reverse grid position for race two.

Sweeny continues to lead the championship with 185 points, followed by D’Alberto (163), Cameron (163) and Buchan (162).

Race two is scheduled to get underway at 11:30 local time (02:30 BST, 03:30 CEST) on Sunday.

Race results

1 30 Josh BUCHAN HMO Customer Racing Hyundai Elantra N TCR 16 16 LAPS 1:37.900 1
2 14 Lachlan MINEEFF Forza Brakes Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 16 2.161 1:38.627 9
3 18 Aaron CAMERON Team Valvoline GRM Peugeot 308 TCR 16 4.633 1:38.743 8
4 130 Bailey SWEENY HMO Customer Racing Hyundai i30 N TCR 16 5.294 1:38.490 4
5 71 Ben BARGWANNA Burson Auto Parts Racing Peugeot 308 TCR 16 7.299 1:38.963 5
6 15 Michael CLEMENTE Michael Clemente Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 16 12.580 1:39.063 10
7 41 Kody GARLAND Valvoline Racing GRM Peugeot 308 TCR 16 14.294 1:39.337 11
8 33 Jordan COX Schaeffler GRM Peugeot 308 TCR 16 14.771 1:39.336 13
9 74 Brad HARRIS Exclusive Switchboards Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 15 + 1 LAP 1:39.081 12
10 115 Tom OLIPHANT Ashley Seward Motorsport Lynk & Co 03 TCR 14 + 2 LAPS 1:38.810 6
R 1 Tony D’ALBERTO Honda Wall Racing Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 14 DNF 1:38.651 3
R 110 Zac SOUTAR Team Soutar Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 7 DNF 1:38.659 2
R 9 Will BROWN MPC Team Liqui Moly Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 1 DNF 1:49.712 7
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