Sweeny takes TCR Australia opener


Bailey Sweeny cruised to victory in Race 1 of the 2023 Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series at AWC Race Tasmania

Bailey Sweeny has secured victory in Race 1 for the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series at AWC Race Tasmania.

A dominant drive from Sweeny (Hyundai) saw him claim the fastest lap and take the chequered flag in the 30-lap encounter at Symmons Plains Raceway, ahead of reigning TCR Australia Series winner Tony D’Alberto (Honda), as Kody Garland (Peugeot) scored his first podium finish.

“It’s an awesome start to the year, kept it clean and the car was fast so yeah, mega race,” Sweeny said.

“Best possible start to the season hopefully, we keep the momentum and string the championship together.”

There was drama prior to the race with polesitter Will Brown (Audi) out of the race and possibly the weekend due to a reported drive shaft issue experienced at the end of Qualifying 2, with Zac Soutar (Audi) also out of the race after his entry was plagued by a similar issue.

An over boost in Josh Buchan’s Hyundai i30N entry in qualifying saw him issued with a penalty relegating him to the back of the grid, resulting in Sweeny starting at the head of the field from D’Alberto.

Sweeny led the way from D’Alberto, as Aaron Cameron (Peugeot) aimed to force a move for second before going off at Turn 1, dropping back a position to fifth, as Garland quickly made his way past Ben Bargwanna (Peugeot) for third – holding onto that position for the remainder of the race.

Following his penalty, Buchan began his charge from the rear of the field making his way past Iain McDougall (Audi) and Lachlan Mineeff (Audi) to find himself in ninth by Lap 4, before overcoming Tom Oliphant (Alfa Romeo) and Michael Clemente (Audi) to find himself in seventh by Lap 9.

There was plenty of jostling for positions in the mid-field, with Oliphant making a move on Clemente for eighth on Lap 9.

At the halfway mark, Sweeny led the way from D’Alberto, Garland, Bargwanna, Cameron, Jordan Cox, Buchan, Oliphant, Clemente, Mineeff and McDougall the running order.

Heading the field, Sweeny held a 4s advantage over D’Alberto, with Garland over one-second adrift of the latter.

One spot off the podium, Bargwanna held sway over Cameron, while a lock-up from Cox presented an opportunity for Buchan on Lap 16, however the former managed to hold onto position.

Buchan attempted a dive down the inside of Cox at the hairpin on Lap 18, however he wasn’t able to convert the move.

After 20 laps, Sweeny had built a 5s margin over D’Alberto with Garland a further 2s behind in third, with Bargwanna ahead of Cameron, while Cox held sixth over Buchan.

The following lap, Buchan dived down the inside of Cox at the hairpin, making the move stick to claim sixth.

However, he would only hold that position for one lap, with Cox repeating the same move to reclaim sixth from Buchan at the hairpin on Lap 22.

On Lap 26, Sweeny extended his advantage over 6.6s advantage over D’Alberto, with Garland 2s behind the latter.

By the time he crossed the stripe, Sweeney had stretched the margin to over 7s over D’Alberto, with Garland 12s off the leader.

Bargwanna managed to hold onto fourth ahead of Cameron, with Cox overcoming Buchan in the battle for sixth.

Oliphant was eighth, ahead of Minneff, while a 10th place finish for Clemente will see him start from pole position in Race 2.

The Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series will return to the track tomorrow for Race 2 at 13:30 local time/AEDT, with Race 3 at 16:10 local time/AEDT.

Join the discussion below in the Speedcafe.com comments section

Please note: Speedcafe.com reserves the right to remove any comment that does not follow the comment policy. For support, contact [email protected]