TCR Australia Rewind – Showdown at The Bend
An action-packed inaugural season of Supercheap Auto TCR Australia in 2019 concluded with a second trip to The Bend Motorsport Park where the battle was heating up for the runner up position in the title.
HMO Customer Racing’s Will Brown secured the title with one round to spare at Sandown, but a four-way fight for second was the focus at The Bend as 45 points separated Ashley Seward Motorsport’s Dylan O’Keeffe, Honda-supported Wall Racing driver Tony D’Alberto, young gun Aaron Cameron and Brown’s Hyundai teammate Nathan Morcom.
The debut of two manufacturers to the TCR Australia ranks in the form of Peugeot and Cupra added further spice to the weekend’s racing.
O’Keeffe started the weekend strongest out of the quartet by taking pole position, however his weekend turned sour from then on. After failing to start Race 1 due to a steering problem, Sunday’s action continued the trend as he failed to finish both encounters to end the weekend fifth in the standings.
Just like O’Keeffe, Morcom’s chances of second took a hit as he failed to finish the opening race due to a right-front wheel departing his i30 N TCR. Sunday was a much stronger day for the New South Welshman as he took sixth in Race 2 and a maiden victory in the finale.
Following O’Keeffe and Morcom’s retirements, the battle was down to two.
Cameron and D’Alberto were barely split in the opening race, rounding out the podium as the young gun took the upper hand.
Victory in Race 2 further enhanced his chances of taking home the $50,000 purse for second as D’Alberto dropped to fifth ahead of a winner take all finale.
Driving the Melbourne Performance Centre Volkswagen Golf GTI, Cameron had only one thing on his mind for Race 3.
“I really want to round it off with another win, but also the main goal is to beat Tony D,” he told Greg Rust on the grid for Race 3.
“Have a crack and hopefully it comes off!”
Meeting his pre-race objective comfortably, an engine malady with two laps remaining dropped Cameron back to 10th allowing D’Alberto to snatch second by 14 points with a fifth place finish.
“I didn’t think that was going to happen, but I’ll take it,” said D’Alberto post-race.
“I felt sorry for Aaron because he did a good job all year, but I’m certainly happy to take second in the championship.”
And how did D’Alberto celebrate? He immediately jumped in his car to begin the seven hour trip back to Melbourne so he could witness the birth of his second child.
For Cameron, the elation of victory was followed by disappointment as he settled for third.
“That’s the highest of highs and the lowest of lows,” he summarised.
“No boost. No turbo. Nothing I could do.
“I saw D’Alberto coming and tried to block him through the last corner, but he just pulled out and passed me.”