Caltex Power Rankings: Race Sydney
Welcome to Australia, the home of the world’s biggest sheep stations, which apparently were on the line for the TCR World Tour races at Sydney Motorsport Park.
This is the 20th Caltex Power Rankings for 2023, where we break down the HOT, NOT and WHAT from a highly entertaining Race Sydney.
ABOUT THE RANKINGS: The TRT Power Rankings are compiled by your nominations from social media and edited by the TRT editorial team. They’re designed to give a balanced, as fair as possible critical overview of those things that excelled and those things that struggled, at each event. It’s (mostly) a democracy, and what you nominate generates the order, so have your say next event via our social media channels, @theracetorque on Facebook, Twitter and Insta. Look for the call out each evening and get commenting!
1. TCR Race 1 Madness
Holy smokes. This one made noise around the world, with the pictures of the full field spearing into the outfield at turn two when they tripped up on a right proper rain front. Elsewhere, the racing was full-contact warfare, and it was just sensational.
2. TCR Race 2 Start
Further to the opening par of these rankings, the sheep station those blokes are racing for must have been extensive…
3. Will Brown
Brown is only the second non-World Tour driver to take a win in these top-tier TCR events, not only claiming the opener after a mid-race reset, with his drive from tenth in the reverse top-ten second race to the win an absolute classic. Take that world, Aussie touring car drivers are something we can be proud of.
4. TCR Race 3
Also really good motorsport, especially down the order, just not quite in the same league as the other two.
5. TCR Qualifying/The Damp/Norbert Michelisz
The entrée to the weekend made for tremendous viewing. A damp track split the field in the opening leg and ultimately set up a thrilling top-ten segment. Norbert Michelisz’s onboard, where he only turned right for the rather high-speed left-hand turn one was remarkable. The suggestion to put him in a Hyundai Excel would surely shift some tickets next year. Also see: Ben Bargwanna.
6. Ben Bargwanna
He’s spent a spell overseas this year mixing it up with the best from the world of TCR, with his effort on Friday arvo absolutely putting him on the map. The local Peugeot squad nailed the tyre selection of slicks all around, but Ben got out there and absolutely nailed the laps. The emotion post-session in the pits was great to see, as was the banter from the player who formerly was known as Jason Bargwanna, but now simply goes by ‘Ben Bargwanna’s Dad’.
7. Rob Huff
A big win in the third and final race which sets up a tasty end to the World Tour season with only a lone point in it at the top of the standings. And, like all the internationals, he gets it. Engaging, happy to be there, willing to do anything, and also a badass Touring Car racer.
8. Having Internationals Back
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen an influx of top-line international touring car teams in Australia, and especially after years of being locked up from the world for pandemic-type reasons, the TCR World Tour coming to town is a breath of fresh air. Also, it was just the boost the local competition needed. The professionalism of the squads was seriously F1-spec, and something we can definitely learn from.
9. Hyundai Excels
Sometimes, when the Excels are asked to step up to a big stage, this biff is brought back, and it all turns to custard. This time around, when it was time for lights, camera, action, the Excels absolutely nailed it – highly competitive, hugely entertaining – more of this in future, thanks. Attaboy to James Lodge on three race wins, which he truly had to work for.
10. Trans Am
Frankly, the one-lap dash to the chequered flag in the finale was the highlight of the weekend, which saw James Moffat and Nash Moffat split the four race wins, with Moff sealing the round as he closes in on the title.
TCR Australia Showdown
Josh Buchan clawed back exactly one point on his teammate Bailey Sweeny in Sydney, with the duo split by 29 markers heading into the season finale on The Mountain.
Radical Cup Australia
Some good competitive racing to round out a quality weekend of racing. Great to see. Well done Cooper Cutts on the weekend win, and Alex Gardner on the season crown.
Racing Under Lights
Spending $20 million on floodlighting Sydney Motorsport Park continues to be money incredibly well spent.
Are great, especially at night.
Should have been done during the driver intros, but still, Hot.
A nice touch with the flags and especially the grid kids, made more remarkable by the fact the grid for Race 3 wasn’t confirmed until about 10 minutes before the voiceover occurred. Cue some frantic script jiggling but excellent execution from G. Rust.
Euro driver celebrations
The way the Euros celebrate is better than the way Aussies celebrate. This is a fact. And it’s genuine, 100 per cent passionate and real. Our guys need to fire up more, because old mate Audi boss on Saturday night was a high benchmark!
GTWCA with the SpeedSeries in 2024
The GTs have a home with the SpeedSeries outside of the Bathurst 12 Hour for the entirety of 2024, which will be good to see.
Only one week until we get to race again…
This graphic aired at dinner time, we’re okay with that as an outcome…
(Editor Craill takes it as high praise and says he hopes he ages that gracefully. Greg Rust refused to comment)
Trans Am Dramas
Depending on which side of the fence you sit, this could be hot or entirely not. Having a penalty such as this overturned in this manner is not par for the course. Thus, this bout of off-track politics sits here, in the purgatory otherwise known as WHAT.
1. Imports Not Understanding Aussie Rules
Every year at the Bathurst 12 Hour, just after the first safety car appearance of the race, you can set your watch to a raft of penalties being awarded to international drivers who weaved after the safety car lights extinguished. Copy and paste that to SMP on Friday night, and you could have picked up some easy money at the TAB…
2. Tony D’Alberto Off Turn 1
Damn fast off for a brand spankin’ new car.
3. Kody Garland
Found the fence on the inside of turn one after a suspected flat tyre. As far as starts to a double-header of events go, this could not have gone much worse.
4. Will Brown and Frédéric Vervisch Race Three Jump Start
Sydney is hard to start at because you need three feet – one on the throttle, one on the clutch and one on the brake. It caught out two of the best on Saturday night.
5. Bargwanna’s Saturday
A misfire in race two necessitated a turbo and wiring loom change for the finale and a pit lane start, with the car heading back into the pits during the race.
6. Zac Soutar Broken Driveshaft
Brought out the safety car in race one, capping a tough year for Audi driveshafts and Zak Soutar in general.
7. Trans Am Tears
A costly weekend for some leading lights.
8. Aaron Cameron Jump Start and other things
Screamed into the lead of race two, however, he was amongst multiple drivers who were pinged 5sec for various indiscretions.
Turn 1 Race 3 sent into the boonies via an aerial route.
9. Feedback from the fans
10. Businesses, Beer and late night Maccas
If you’re a race track adjacent bar, opposite a race track that operates until 10pm at night, surely you adjust your hours to suit accordingly. The Alpha Hotel’s Oak Bar & Grill is a good place for a post-race bevvy, especially for the many staying there, so it seemed like dumb business to shut the bar on Friday night before the racing was even done, thus shooting themselves in the foot to the tune of about 100 pints…
(And that’s just the editor.. – The Editor.)
They deserve some praise for staying open a little later on Saturday and allowing people to buy extras before they locked the doors – but then there were also plenty of Uber Eats Maccas orders being placed because the kitchen had long fallen silent. Be smarter, businesses near race tracks that are in Western Sydney, and make much more money from hungry and thirsty race fans or, at least, TRT.
Sydney Motorsport Park’s PA
As bad as Advance Australia Fair is, the PA Announcement calling cars to the dummy grid during the Race 2 national anthem (on Live Network TV) was bad. It’s not hard…
God save the King
So long and boring that it got cut off halfway for champagne after Race 3. Oh well, at least they’re still good at Cricket.. err..
Will Harris’s Hatch
Blowing open entering turn one in the third race, spearing him far into the shrubbery. Scary stuff.
Although it was brilliant for those watching from the comfort of home, the forecast, especially on Saturday, would have kept some fair weather fans at home.
I knew I shouldn’t have parked my Honda there…
If you were wondering who was running the very cool, jet-black weapon cannibalised by Wall Racing for spares, he won last year’s TCR title.
Both the use of the term ‘recency bias’ and also the fact he’s probably not wrong.