Will Brown dominated the opening TCR Australia Series race of the weekend at The Bend in an encounter punctuated by a heavy opening lap crash for Liam McAdam and Chelsea Angelo.
Battling towards the back of the top 10, McAdam looked to make a move under brakes at the penultimate corner, making heavy contact with Angelo’s Opel Astra to end both their races on the spot.
Pole sitter Dylan O’Keeffe missed the race after suffering a steering failure in qualifying, leaving Brown alone on the front row.
Off the start D’Alberto moved to the inside and draw side by side with Brown into the opening corner, but was unable to make the move stick.
Further squabbling followed before culminating in an incident sending Andre Heimgartner, Angelo, and McAdam all off the road at the end.
McAdam attempted a move up the inside, clouting the kerb on the apex an spearing into the right side door on Angelo’s Astra.
It left the pair stranded in the gravel and drew the Safety Car as the field began its third lap.
Racing resumed on Lap 5, Brown opening a clear advantage at the restart ahead of D’Alberto as Cameron had to defend from Pither into the first corner.
A battle then developed between D’Alberto and Cameron for second, the pair having been dropped by Brown who had quickly established a two second advantage out front.
Having struggled with a fuel pressure problem during qualifying, Tim Brook called into the lane after seven laps, the Cupra having dropped to last over the course of the preceding lap.
Though he rejoined, Brook toured another lap before returning to the lane and ultimately retirement as he pulled the car into the garage.
Locked in battle with Jordan Cox for fifth, Nathan Morcom found himself off the road at Turn 13 when the front right wheel broke free of the Hyundai i30N TCR.
Cameron made his way through on D’Alberto to move into second place at the final corner on Lap 7, D’Alberto immediately dropping back from the Volkswagen and into the clutches of Pither’s Renault.
Having looked for a time like he might charge his way forward, Pither ultimately found himself unable to live with D’Alberto’s pace as he instead worked to fend off Cox’s Alfa Romeo.
Catching the pair was John Martin, who’d steamed from last on the grid following an engine issue in practice to latch onto the back of the fourth place battle.
The pair would run out of time, Pither holding on in a shortened race that ran to 12 of its scheduled 14 laps, Cox in fifth and Martin sixth.
Out front, Brown held on to take a comfortable 1.2 second win over Cameron with D’Alberto in a lonely third place.
Late dramas saw Barton Mawer drop out of ninth on the final lap, the Subaru rolling to a halt just two corners from the chequered flag.
With O’Keeffe not starting, the resulted moved D’Alberto into second in the championship and Cameron third, while victory meant champion-elect Brown extended his already unbeatable advantage.
TCR Australia returns for the final two races of the 2020 campaign starting from 1240 ACDT on Sunday.
Results: Race 1
|1||30||HMO Customer Racing||Will Brown||Hyundai I30N||12||26:52.2122|
|2||2||Melbourne Performance Centre||Aaron Cameron||Volkswagen Golf GTI||12||26:53.3832|
|3||50||Wall Racing||Tony D’Alberto||Honda Civic Type R||12||26:57.9114|
|4||33||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Chris Pither||Renault Megane RS||12||27:00.1689|
|5||7||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Jordan Cox||Alfa Romeo Giulietta||12||27:00.4384|
|6||24||Wall Racing||John Martin||Honda Civic Type R||12||27:00.9008|
|7||8||Taskforce / Melb.Perf.Centre||Jason Bright||Volkswagen Golf GTI||12||27:02.1132|
|8||100||Melbourne Performance Centre||Russell Ingall||Audi RS 3||12||27:04.5530|
|9||34||Garry Rogers Motorsport||James Moffat||Renault Megane RS||12||27:04.8831|
|10||3||Melbourne Performance Centre||Iain McDougall||Audi RS 3||12||27:16.0206|
|11||35||Melbourne Performance Centre||Alexandra Whitley||Volkswagen Golf GTI||12||27:25.9955|
|12||19||Milldun Motorsport||Matthew Simmons||Subaru WRX STi||12||27:26.7658|
|13||777||Kelly Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Holden Astra||12||27:46.0236|
|DNF||27||Milldun Motorsport||Barton Mawer||Subaru WRX STi||11||25:14.5085|
|DNF||64||Garage 1||Tim Brook||Cupra SEAT Leon 300||7||19:09.1764|
|DNF||11||HMO Customer Racing||Nathan Morcom||Hyundai I30N||6||15:09.3224|
|DNF||10||Ashley Seward Motorsport||James Allen||Alfa Romeo Giulietta|
|DNF||97||Melbourne Performance Centre||Liam McAdam||Audi RS 3|
|DNF||62||Kelly Racing||Chelsea Angelo||Holden Astra|