Josh Buchan’s unexpected Symmons Plains pace
HMO Customer Racing’s Josh Buchan left the opening round of the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series on top of the standings and there is no one more surprised than himself.
Although Buchan scored a podium on debut last year at Symmons Plains, the Tasmanian circuit was one not best suited to the Hyundai i30N TCR package.
However, last weekend it proved one of, if not the strongest as demonstrated by Buchan in Race 3 as he left the Apple Isle with a slender two-point advantage ahead of recent Supercheap Auto TCR Australia race winner and Honda privateer Zac Soutar.
“I didn’t expect that,” remarked Buchan.
“I was happy with how the weekend went, I think I drove as well as I’ve driven in the category. Even if that reverse grid Race 2 was absolute carnage, I kept it clean and I look back at that as a big moment considering where I was in the field.
“If I stayed where I was, I’d be on pole for the final, which was what I was after and to hold a lights-to-flag lead in the final was pretty unexpected, but at the same time a good reward for everyone.”
His margin back to Soutar in the series standings could have been better if not for a mistake, which cost the two-time race winner victory. A 5s penalty was applied to Buchan’s race time due to weaving behind the safety car when its lights were switched off as the race resumed following a red-flag.
“Obviously, the penalty sucked and I’m still filthy at myself over it,” said Buchan.
“That’s car racing and hopefully the only belly up of the year we have.”
Despite the mistake, Buchan proved the class of the field after the race resumed as he built a 3s gap to Soutar in five laps to narrowly miss out on third to Jordan Cox at the flag.
“I’m pretty happy with how it all went though,” Buchan summarised.
“When I put the hammer down, that was as good as I’d driven a race car and to get a gap like that was not expected. I’m just thankful I built up the gap that I did, though my old mate Coxy stole third place from me on the line.”
Reflecting back on Round 1, Buchan believes Jay Hanson in the new Audi RS3 LMS TCR is the biggest threat in the series after his performance in the opening race.
“The fastest car in the field is no doubt Jay in the brand new Audi,” emphasised Buchan.
“That thing was an absolute rocketship. In the first race, he dropped me like a bad habit and I wasn’t conserving looking after tyres, I burnt a set trying to chase him.
However, Buchan admitted the competition is close this season and is excited to return to Phillip Island for redemption following last year’s round.
“It all seems relatively close,” he said. “The qualifying times were extremely tight and those are the margins we’re playing with.
“Hopefully the year moving forward is exactly like that, we can go to Phillip Island and the top 10 is within a few tenths, so we can put on a good show.”
The next round of Supercheap Auto TCR Australia is at Phillip Island on March 18-20 together with the Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships.