TCR Australia Rewind – An Argentine domination
Sandown 2019 was where the inaugural Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series was won, an international took the chocolates and there was action aplenty.
A large crowd amassed at the historic Victorian circuit as not only was it the debut of TCR Australia at the venue, but the highly anticipated S5000 category was making its maiden appearance.
HMO Customer Racing’s Will Brown led the series heading to Sandown and could seal the title during the weekend, however Ashley Seward Motorsport driver Dylan O’Keeffe was aiming to prevent this.
Honda and Wall Racing had an ace up its sleeve courtesy of factory WTCR driver Nestor Girolami entering the fray.
Another driver taking to the grid was Garth Tander after debuting in the category at Phillip Island and winning at The Bend Motorsport Park the following round.
The Argentinian was in exemplary form right from the start of practice and took pole position ahead of Andre Heimgartner in what was the best showing for the Kelly Racing Holden Astra TCR during the season.
Girolami’s Wall Racing teammate John Martin was third ahead of Brown, Jason Bright and Jordan Cox.
Title contenders Tony D’Alberto and O’Keeffe were placed in the back half of the top 10.
A perfect start for Girolami set-up a dominant victory, while behind there was chaos although Brown avoided it to be second ahead of Cox, who scored his maiden podium finish.
For Brown, it was crucial as both of his series rivals struggled enabling the Hyundai driver to edge closer to sealing the crown.
Sunday’s two races followed the same narrative as Girolami whitewashed the weekend and provided Wall Racing with some handy hints to finish the season.
“This one was easier than yesterday,” said Girolami.
“There were many incidents behind me, I made a good start and then controlled the pace.”
Whilst D’Alberto turned his weekend around after finishing 15th in the opener to be fourth and third in Sunday’s two events.
It was a fruitful cameo for Tander as he finished with two seconds on Sunday, while James Moffat gave the Renault fans something to cheer about with third in Race 2.
O’Keeffe struggled to eighth and 11th, while Brown finished seventh in Race 2 as a spin on the opening lap of the final threatened to derail his aim of securing the title. However, he again finished seventh to take the inaugural series with one round to spare.
“I’m such an idiot,” Brown admitted. “It’s not the way I wanted to do it, but I’ll take it.
“I just put my head down and went for it. And I got there.”