Sweeny seals TCR Australia finale at Race Tasmania
By Iwan Jones
Sunday 26th February, 2023 - 5:00pm
Bailey Sweeny has secured victory in the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series finale at AWC Race Tasmania.
After he was swamped from pole, Sweeny (Hyundai) recovered to take the chequered flag in the 30-lap encounter, sealing his second victory of the weekend and the series lead ahead of Tony D’Alberto (Honda) and Jordan Cox (Peugeot), who recorded back-to-back podium finishes.
“Absolutely wrapped with that couldn’t also have a better start to the season,” Sweeny reflected.
“Tony is trying to fight pretty hard to keep the number one in the door.
“He is number one for a reason, he is hard to crack.
“The progress made over last year, I’m glad we can put that in effect, I think last year we left here pretty much last in the standings, so to be leaving the first round with a bit of a lead is absolutely unbelievable.
“Hopefully going into Round 2 we get to put a few more stickers on the doors.”
Sweeny started from pole, ahead of D’Alberto, Race 2 winner Aaron Cameron (Peugeot), Cox, Tom Oliphant (Alfa Romeo), Lachlan Mineeff (Audi), Kody Garland (Peugeot), Josh Buchan (Hyundai), Michael Clemente (Audi), Iain McDougall (Audi), Ben Bargwanna (Peugeot), with Will Brown (Audi) and Zac Soutar (Audi) not starting the race.
A great start from D’Alberto saw him take the lead of the race, as Cox muscled his way past Cameron for third and then Sweeny for second, as Bargwanna moved up three spots to eighth on the opening lap.
D’Alberto quickly set about getting his tyres up to temperature, as he built a 1.4s advantage over Cox by Lap 4, with Sweeny a little over two-tenths adrift of the latter.
After getting a good run out of the hairpin, Sweeny dived down the inside of Cox at the penultimate corner to take second on Lap 5, as Cox came back on the inside, running side-by-side over the stripe, before the #130 driver held onto second at Turn 1.
Cox then faced pressure from Race 2 winner Cameron, who made a run after diving down the inside at the hairpin on Lap 7, with Cox holding the inside line at the penultimate corner to hold onto third.
After 10 laps, D’Alberto led from Sweeny, Cox, Cameron, Oliphant, Mineeff, Garland, Bargwanna, Buchan, Clemente and McDougall.
The following lap, Cameron dived down the inside of Cox at the penultimate corner, before running wide to allow the latter to hold onto position, as Oliphant saw an opportunity to attack the rear bumper of Cameron.
After setting the fastest lap of the race on Lap 10 with a 0:57.0510s, Sweeny put together a string of three consecutive laps faster than D’Alberto to reduce the margin to the race leader to 0.9725s by Lap 14.
D’Alberto reacted to Sweeny’s pace, extending his lead to over 1s by Lap 16, with Cox over 6.5s off the #1 Honda Civic FK7 TCR, as a four-way battle broke out between Garland, Mineeff, Bargwanna and Buchan for positions six through to nine.
Sweeny surpassed D’Alberto for the lead on Lap 20, with the latter reportedly experiencing an intermittent gear shifter issue, as Cox, Cameron, Oliphant, Garland, Mineeff, Bargwanna, Buchan, Clemente and McDougall completed the order.
He set about building an advantage of 3.6s over D’Alberto, with Cox 6s behind the latter, as fourth-placed Cameron headed Oliphant by 2s, was Garland continued to hold off Mineeff, Bargwanna and Buchan.
That advantage would remain as he crossed the stripe, with Sweeny taking the series lead with victory in Race 3, finishing ahead of D’Alberto and Cox.
Cameron was fourth, Oliphant in fifth, as Garland held off Mineeff, Bargwanana and Buchan, with Clemente and McDougall rounding out the field.
Round 2 of the 2023 Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series will take place at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on May 12-14.
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