21 September 2019 | Featured

Nestor Girolami takes pole position for TCR opener

Nestor Girolami proved his class and commitment when he recovered from an off-track excursion to claim pole position for the first of three carsales TCR Australia Series sprints at Sandown Park.

The Honda factory driver was comfortably clear of his pursuers as he clocked a 1 minute 13.9637 lap in his Honda Civic Type R, although championship leader Will Brown was on track to close the gap before a last-lap mistake in his Hyundai i30N.

Andrew Heimgartner upset the form book to run best-of-the-rest in a Honda Astra that is finally delivering on its potential with Kelly Racing, as John Martin was third for the grid in a second Honda.

Girolami was comfortably quickest through Friday practice despite making his Sandown debut, but struggled in the early stages of qualifying as the TCR runners raced to get a quick lap before a rain shower.

“The track was a little bit slippery at first and I had the brake bias wrong. It was scary in the qualifying,” reports Girolami.

“I lost the front. I went off at Turn 9 on the gravel. On the gravel I had to survive. I did it Dakar style to get out.”

The mistake cost the Argentinian any chance of a third run on fresh tyres, but his time was good enough to do the job and then he used the final minutes to perfect a practice start ahead of the first race.

“We can still beat him. We had to stop him getting away,” says Brown, who will start from fourth.

“My lap was ok. I was actually two-tenths up at Turn 2 on my final run, but then I stuffed-up.”

For Heimgartner, the race will be an unknown after tuning the Astra for qualifying.

“We’ve been tuning it a lot. We’re really happy. There is still more to come but it might struggle as a qualifying car,” says Heimgartner.

And he has Girolami’s effort in perspective.

“He should be that fast. That’s what he does, every day.”

The mid-field pack should produce plenty of tussles and slipstreaming, with 17 cars on the grid and Dylan O’Keefe starting only ninth in an Alfa Giulia which has been one of the quickest cars in earlier TCR events.

Results: TCR Australia Race 1 Qualifying

Pos Num Driver Team Car Time Gap
1   38 Nestor Girolami (ARG)   Wall Racing                    Honda Civic Type R   1:13.9637
2  777 Andre Heimgartner (NZ)  Kelly Racing                   Holden Astra         1:14.3147 00.3510
3   24 John Martin (NSW)       Wall Racing                    Honda Civic Type R   1:14.4205 00.4568
4   30 William Brown (Qld)     HMO Customer Racing            Hyundai i30N         1:14.5029 00.5392
5    8 Jason Bright (Vic)      Taskforce/Melb Performance Cnt Volkswagon Golf GTI  1:14.7351 00.7714
6    7 Jordan Cox (NSW)        Garry Rogers Motorsport        Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1:15.0217 01.0580
7   50 Tony D’Alberto (Vic)    Wall Racing                    Honda Civic Type R   1:15.3768 01.4131
8   62 Bryce Fullwood (NT)     Kelly Racing                   Holden Astra         1:15.4249 01.4612
9    9 Dylan O’Keeffe (Vic)    Ashley Seward Motorsport       Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1:16.0341 02.0704
10  34 James Moffat (Vic)      Garry Rogers Motorsport        Renault Megane RS    1:16.0353 02.0716
11   3 Garth Tander (Vic)      Melbourne Performance Centre   Audi RS 3            1:16.0379 02.0742
12  97 Liam McAdam (Qld)       Melbourne Performance Centre   Audi RS 3            1:16.1310 02.1673
13 100 Russell Ingall (Qld)    Melbourne Performance Centre   Audi RS 3            1:16.5845 02.6208
14   2 Aaron Cameron (Vic)     Melbourne Performance Centre   Volkswagen Golf GTI  1:16.8578 02.8941
15  11 Nathan Morcom (NSW)     HMO Customer Racing            Hyundai i30N         1:17.2787 03.3150
16  33 Chris Pither (NZ)       Garry Rogers Motorsport        Renault Megane RS    1:17.8114 03.8477
17  35 Alexandra Whitley (Qld) Melbourne Performance Centre   Volkswagon Golf GTI  1:18.8787 04.9150