TCR Sandown Showdown
JUST one point splits HMO Customer Racing Hyundai teammates Josh Buchan and Bailey Sweeny as the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia field heads to Sandown this weekend.
The sixth round of the 2023 calendar also represents the final domestic-only round of the series prior to the arrival of the Kumho TCR World Tour field prior to the next round at Sydney Motorsport Park this November.
The Sandown storylines are plentiful, ranging from the inter-team battle between the Hyundai pair to the GRM Peugeot teammates Aaron Cameron and Jordan Cox who are chasing them.
HMO Customer Racing’s Josh Buchan leads the series by a single point heading to Sandown, the Sydneysider expecting more excitement on their Victorian sojourn.
“I’m hoping for a repeat of last year, with lots of rain and lots of chaos,” Buchan said.
“It’s what we want, as – like Queensland Raceway – it’s not the kind of track that will play to our strengths in normal conditions. Having said that, the two sections of corners in between the drag strips are some of my favourite stretches of bitumen in Australia.
“I don’t know how realistic it will be to hold on to the championship lead – even after qualifying – this weekend, but I’ll do my best.
“There are still two big events to come after this with the TCR World Tour at Sydney Motorsport Park and the Bathurst International, and while it’s nice to lead it doesn’t mean much at this point. I’ve got my eyes forward on the rest of the year and making sure I’m there at the end, and not just right now.”
Meanwhile, Tony D’Alberto climbed to fifth last time out at Queensland Raceway and continues to build momentum in his Wall Racing Honda Civic Type R.
And then there’s Will Brown, who dominated at Queensland Raceway by claiming Pole and two commanding race victories – also charging from the back to third in the reverse grid affair too.
Returning to the grid this weekend for his second start will be third-generation driver, Clay Richards, who will drive a GRM-prepared Peugeot 308 TCR for the first time.
Richards’ made his debut at Winton driving an Audi RS3 TCR for Melbourne Performance Centre and immediately impressed, qualifying 11th before posting finishes of 9th and a fighting second in the reverse-grid second race prior to a non-finish in race three.
His program sees his family reunite with the Bargwanna clan, who have engineered the deal for Richards’ to steer the Hangcha Forklifts entry this weekend.
Audi will continue to enjoy strong representation this weekend, however, as Iain McDougall returns in his RS3 LMS TCR.
He re-joins Brown, Lachlan Mineeff, and Zac Soutar in the Audi fleet this weekend.
Also returning is Tom Oliphant, who will be reunited with his Lynk & Co TCR racer having missed the Queensland event to get married.
“It’s a bit of a whirlwind time, coming back from an amazing time getting married, but I’m really pleased to be getting back in the Lynk & Co and to get cracking,” said Oliphant.
“Sandown is another new track, but it’s one that I’m really eager to learn. From the footage I’ve been watching it looks like a very interesting and exciting track. I know a lot of the drivers in the paddock enjoy racing around it as well. You’re never really sure what you’ll need when going to a new track but I’m really confident that we’ve got a very good race car.
Last year, a weather-affected weekend saw Jay Hanson score pole in his Audi RS3 with Aaron Cameron second in his GRM Peugeot.
Cameron and Ben Bargwanna won the first two races, while Michael Caruso claimed the third in his Ash Seward Motorsport Alfa Romeo.
The Supercheap Auto TCR Australia field will contest three races this weekend at Sandown, all three and Saturday’s qualifying sessions broadcast live, ad-break free and on demand on Stan Sport.