Aussie O’Keeffe qualifies 13th on WTCR debut

Dylan O’Keeffe

Australian racer Dylan O’Keeffe has qualified on the seventh row of the grid in his maiden appearance in the World Touring Car Cup.

O’Keeffe piloted his Vukovic Motorsport Renault Megane RS TCR to 13th fastest at Zolder in Belgium.

His best time came on his final lap, though missed the cut off to Qualifying 2 which sees the top 12 progress.

“We’ve been improving the car every session, the Vukovic Motorsport guys are doing a fantastic job,” O’Keeffe said.

“By the time we reached qualifying, the car was the best it had been all weekend.

“Unfortunately, I made a mistake at Turn 1 on my best lap due to not quite having enough temperature in the tyres – without that, we would have been through to Q2 for sure.

“Overall, we’re pleased with the result – it’s a strong start for Vukovic Motorsport’s WTCR campaign.”

O’Keeffe campaigned an Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce for Ashley Seward Motorsport in the 2019 Australian TCR Series, claiming four wins en route to fifth in the standings.

Last month he headed to Europe to test for Vukovic Motorsport as it looked to validate developments made to the car over its previous iteration.

He has previously raced for Garry Rogers Motorsport in Supercars, stepping in for Riche Stanaway at the Gold Coast in 2019, and is a race winner in Porsche Carrera Cup Australia.

This weekend’s outing marks his first in international competition.

“We know the WTCR competition is cut-throat, but the Renault is renowned for being stronger in race trim than it is in qualifying – I think it will look after its tyres well,” O’Keeffe said.

“The key for tomorrow will be finding the right balance between aggression and preservation – we’ll be racing hard, but aiming to stay out of trouble at the same time.”

Pole position for the opening race of the weekend went to Audi’s Nathanael Berthon with Race 2 featuring a reverse top 10.

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