WTCR ace Nestor Girolami produced a faultless drive to complete a lights-to-flag victory in TCR Australia Race 1 at Sandown.
The factory Honda driver ran largely untroubled after making a great start from pole position despite being faced with a damp but drying track.
Girolami, who is making a one-off appearance in the category, went on to take the win for Wall Racing by 2.2s.
The Argentine gambled by running slick tyres on the front with wets on the rear.
The battle for the remaining podium places dominated the action with John Martin (Wall Racing, Honda) holding second for the opening 12 laps, but was under immense pressure from series leader Will Brown (HMO Customer Racing, Hyundai) and Jordan Cox (Garry Rogers Motorsport, Alfa Romeo).
Martin, who appeared to be on wet tyres, struggled for pace as the track dried out, with Brown eventually taking second on Lap 12 at Turn 1
Brown went on to finish second while Cox claimed the final podium spot after following Brown in overtaking Martin.
Martin had to produce an incredible display of defensive driving to bring the car home in fifth, after losing out to a charging Garth Tander (Melbourne Performance Centre, Audi), who started from 11th on the grid.
Liam McAdam (Melbourne Performance Centre, Audi) came home in sixth ahead of James Moffat (Garry Rogers Motorsport, Renault), while title contender Dylan O’Keeffe (Ash Seward Motorsport, Alfa Romeo), was eighth.
The top 10 was rounded out by Aaron Cameron (Melbourne Performance Centre, Volkswagen) and Nathan Morcom (HMO Customer Racing, Hyundai).
Kelly Racing’s Andre Heimgartner, who started second and ran in the top five early on, suffered a suspected suspension failure which saw him retire from the race.
Jason Bright also joined the list of retirements in his Alliance Autosport Volkswagen Golf.
Results: TCR Australia Race 1, Sandown
|1||38||Nestor Girolami (ARG)||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R||20||26:00.7271|
|2||30||William Brown (Qld)||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai i30N||20||26:02.9497|
|3||7||Jordan Cox (NSW)||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Alfa Romeo Giulietta||20||26:10.9174|
|4||3||Garth Tander (Vic)||Melbourne Performance Centre||Audi RS 3||20||26:12.5411|
|5||24||John Martin (NSW)||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R||20||26:15.6835|
|6||97||Liam McAdam (Qld)||Melbourne Performance Centre||Audi RS 3||20||26:15.9660|
|7||34||James Moffat (Vic)||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Renault Megane RS||20||26:16.2825|
|8||9||Dylan O’Keeffe (Vic)||Ashley Seward Motorsport||Alfa Romeo Giulietta||20||26:20.4079|
|9||2||Aaron Cameron (Vic)||Melbourne Performance Centre||Volkswagen Golf GTI||20||26:21.3056|
|10||11||Nathan Morcom (NSW)||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai i30N||20||26:36.7466|
|11||33||Chris Pither (NZ)||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Renault Megane RS||20||26:38.1914|
|12||100||Russell Ingall (Qld)||Melbourne Performance Centre||Audi RS 3||20||27:00.7018|
|13||62||Bryce Fullwood (NT)||Kelly Racing||Holden Astra||20||27:09.5344|
|14||35||Alexandra Whitley (Qld)||Melbourne Performance Centre||Volkswagen Golf GTI||20||27:15.5164|
|15||50||Tony D’Alberto (Vic)||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R||20||27:19.4446|
|DNF||8||Jason Bright (Vic)||Taskforce/Melb Performance Cnt||Volkswagen Golf GTI||14||18:38.9701|
|DNF||777||Andre Heimgartner (NZ)||Kelly Racing||Holden Astra||4||5:40.7907|