Vernay cruises to TCR Australia Race 1 victory 

Jean-Karl Vernay

Jean-Karl Vernay produced a faultless lights-to-flag drive to take out the opening race of TCR Australia Round 4 at Queensland Raceway.

The WTCR star was hardly challenged through the 21 lap journey that included a brief Safety Car period as he went on to score a commanding win in the #4 Melbourne Performance Centre Audi RS3. 

A late drama with three laps remaining saw Tony D’Alberto (Wall Racing, Honda) hand second to Dylan O’Keeffe (Ash Seward Motorsport, Alfa Romeo), while Russell Ingall secured third in the #100 Castrol-backed Audi. 

Vernay made no mistakes from pole as he led the field into Turn 1 from John Martin (Wall Racing, Honda) while Will Brown (HMO Customer Racing, Hyundai) and O’Keeffe fought over third. 

A frantic opening lap ended with series leader Brown running wide at Turn 6 which resulted in the Hyundai driver returning to the pits before rejoining the race a lap down.

The series leader was subsequently black flagged for having short cut the circuit on his way back to the pits with a puncture. 

Action continued with Martin enduring an off track excursion at Turn 4 that saw his Civic return at the back of the field with smoke coming from the rear.

The incident began with contact from Brown at Turn 6 on the previous lap which punctured his rear tyre.

The race was soon neutralised with the Safety Car deployed due to debris at Turn 6.

Once racing resumed, Vernay quickly opened up a gap over D’Alberto, who managed to avoid the drama to scythe his way from sixth to second.  

O’Keeffe held third from Ingall (Melbourne Performance Centre, Audi) and Andre Heimgartner (Kelly Racing, Opel Astra) in fifth. 

Meanwhile out front, Vernay continued to build a comfortable lead with all eyes on the battle for second between D’Alberto, O’Keeffe and Ingall. 

As the race progressed there was more drama to unfold as Heimgartner suddenly lost power and retired from a hard fought fifth.

Moments later D’Alberto made an error at Turn 1 and dropped back to fourth allowing O’Keeffe into second and Ingall onto the podium in third.

The top three positions remained until the chequered flag.

Jordan Cox brought the Garry Rogers Motorsport Alfa Romeo home in fifth ahead of Aaron Cameron (Melbourne Performance Centre, Volkswagen), Nathan Morcom (HMO Customer Racing, Hyundai), Alex Rullo (Kelly Racing, Opel Astra), James Moffat (Garry Rogers Motorsport, Renault) and Jason Bright (Alliance Autosport, Volkswagen Golf).

Brown eventually took the finish in 16th more than a lap down but maintains his series lead although his advantage has been cut.

Chris Pither failed to make the start due to an engine problem with his Garry Rogers Motorsport Renault Megane.

TCR Australia continues on Sunday with a further two 21 lap races.

UPDATED: Results: TCR Australia Race 1

Pos Num Driver Team Car Laps Time
1   4 Jean-Karl Vernay (FRA) Melbourne Performance Centre Audi RS 3            21 27:20.4629
2   9 Dylan O’Keeffe (Vic) Ashley Seward Motorsport       Alfa Romeo Giulietta 21 27:28.4149
3 100 Russell Ingall (Qld) Melbourne Performance Centre Audi RS 3            21 27:29.0341
4 50 Tony D’Alberto (Vic) Wall Racing                    Honda Civic Type R 21 27:32.8063
5   7 Jordan Cox (NSW)       Garry Rogers Motorsport        Alfa Romeo Giulietta 21 27:33.7588
6   2 Aaron Cameron (Vic)    Melbourne Performance Centre Volkswagen Golf GTI 21 27:34.2892
7 11 Nathan Morcom (NSW)    HMO Customer Racing            Hyundai i30N         21 27:35.3705
8 62 Alex Rullo (WA)        Kelly Racing                   Holden Astra         21 27:41.8156
9 34 James Moffat (Vic)     Garry Rogers Motorsport        Renault Megane RS    21 27:44.8122
10 35 Alexandra Whitley (Qld Alliance Autosport             Volkswagon Golf GTI 21 27:50.1770
11 38 Jordan Michels (NZ)    Wall Racing                    Honda Civic Type R 21 27:54.4866
12   3 Leanne Tander (Vic)    Melbourne Performance Centre Audi RS 3            21 27:57.4687
13   8 Jason Bright (Vic)     Taskforce / Alliance Autosport Volkswagon Golf GTI 21 27:57.7425
14   6 Molly Taylor (NSW)     Kelly Racing                   Subaru WRX STi       21 28:10.0175
15 24 John Martin (NSW)      Wall Racing                    Honda Civic Type R 20 27:53.2340
16 30 William Brown (Qld)    HMO Customer Racing            Hyundai i30N         20 28:26.4431
DNF 777 Andre Heimgartner (NZ) Kelly Racing                   Holden Astra         16 21:16.1908

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