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Josh Buchan claims victory after Tony D’Alberto knocked out of lead

Josh Buchan won a shortened opening TCR Australia race of the weekend at Phillip Island, after pole-sitter Tony D’Alberto was knocked out of the lead on the first lap of the race.

Due to timetable delays, it was a shortened nine-lap encounter for the first TCR sprint of the weekend, and D’Alberto had earlier qualified his Honda on pole by almost half a second over Wall Racing team-mate Brad Harris.

At the start, D’Alberto held off Harris, who had also made a good start and briefly looked around the outside at Turn 1.

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However, things came to a squeeze at the Turn 3 hairpin, as HMO Customer Racing’s Buchan tried to get down the inside of Harris for second.

Harris, in turn, made slight contact with the rear of D’Alberto’s Civic, unsettling him and pushing him off the circuit onto the grass, as Buchan made his escape in the lead of the race.

Harris lost out to the Audi of Zac Soutar in the process, as D’Alberto dropped to the back of the field, some 25 seconds off the lead.

Thereafter, it was a relatively quiet race. Reigning champion Buchan gradually eased out a lead to a second and a half over the race distance, as Soutar wasn’t able to take the fight to the Hyundai racer.

Then, on the final lap, Harris made a late lunge on Soutar into the Turn 10 hairpin, snatching second at the last gasp.

Update: Harris, however, would later receive a post-race ten-second penalty for the contact with D’Alberto, dropping him down to ninth.

Soutar thus had to settle for third, becoming second with Harris’ penalty, his second rostrum visit of the season, ahead of the Ashley Seward Motorsport Lynk & Co of Dylan O’Keeffe in fourth on the road.

Ben Bargwanna took fifth from Clay Richards on lap eight, the duo having been involved in a near race-long battle. Carl Cox Motorsport’s Richards held the upper hand for the first half of the race, but lost out to Bargwanna’s Peugeot in the first sector two laps from the finish.

Richards held on to sixth, ahead of Ryan Casha’s Peugeot in seventh. Casha had taken the place from Tom Oliphant two laps from the finish.

HMO Hyundai racer Oliphant was thus eighth, with the top ten being completed by GRM’s Aaron Cameron and Wall Racing’s Will Harris, thus giving the latter the reverse-grid pole for race two on Sunday.

Cameron had lost out to Cox on the third lap after making a mistake and going too deep at the Turn 3 hairpin, but Cox dropped back to 11th in the second half of the race.

All drivers took the chequered flag; D’Alberto failing to regain the ground he lost on the opening lap to finish in last, over 40 seconds off the lead.

Races two and three take place on Sunday.

Revised race one result

1 1 Josh BUCHAN HMO Customer Racing Hyundai i30 N TCR 9 9 LAPS 1:36.717 3
2 110 Zac SOUTAR Tufflift Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 9 1.854 1:36.725 6
3 11 Dylan O’KEEFFE Autoglym / Ashley Seward Motorsport Lynk & Co 03 TCR 9 2.150 1:36.812 4
4 71 Ben BARGWANNA Hangcha Racing Peugeot 308 TCR 9 6.442 1:36.944 7
5 4 Clay RICHARDS Carl Cox Motorsport Team MPC CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 9 7.468 1:37.075 5
6 79 Ryan CASHA Team Valvoline GRM Peugeot 308 TCR 9 8.320 1:37.208 10
7 15 Tom OLIPHANT HMO Customer Racing Hyundai i30 N TCR 9 8.800 1:37.300 8
8 18 Aaron CAMERON Team Valvoline GRM Peugeot 308 TCR 9 9.411 1:37.132 9
9 74 Brad HARRIS Exclusive Switchboards Honda Civic Type-R FL5 TCR 9 11.454 1:36.790 2
10 76 Will HARRIS Exclusive Switchboards Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 9 15.589 1:37.749 12
11 33 Jordan COX Schaeffler GRM Peugeot 308 TCR 9 19.400 1:37.638 11
12 29 Glenn NIRWAN Tufflift Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 9 21.747 1:38.570 13
13 179 Jude BARGWANNA Jude Bargwanna Motorsport Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 9 38.730 1:39.646 14
14 2 Tony D’ALBERTO Honda Wall Racing Honda Civic Type-R FL5 TCR 9 40.522 1:38.079 1
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