Dylan O’Keeffe’s return to title contention
This year marks a return to the front for Dylan O’Keeffe.
A contender during the inaugural season of Supercheap Auto TCR Australia driving for Ashley Seward Motorsport in its Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR, O’Keeffe recorded four wins and three podiums on the way to fifth in the standings.
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This doesn’t tell the whole story as he was Will Brown’s main combatant until mechanical problems cruelled his chances.
A move followed to Garry Rogers Motorsport as O’Keeffe aided with the development of the Renault Megane R.S. TCR, but his season last year was largely unrewarded except for a pole at Sydney Motorsport Park.
A frustrating campaign led to another change of brand prior to this season switching to GRM’s Peugeot program.
O’Keeffe’s Peugeot debut at AWC Race Tasmania ended spectacularly after contact with Royal Purple Racing’s Brad Shiels entering the straight spun the 308 TCR into the tyre wall.
This incident began a run of consistency not matched by any other driver this season as O’Keeffe has failed to finish lower than seventh since.
Scoring his maiden Peugeot podium at Phillip Island highlighted a weekend where he scored fifth and fourth in the following two races, but Bathurst was where O’Keeffe truly entered title contentions.
Third, fifth and fourth following a penalty in the final race at the Mountain further cemented his title credentials as rivals stumbled.
Although he failed to return to the podium at Sydney Motorsport Park, O’Keeffe continued to close in on series leader Tony D’Alberto.
A fourth, seventh and fifth closed D’Alberto’s margin to 24-points entering the second half of the season.
The Peugeot continues to be an impressive product considering its still relatively early in its development cycle here in Australia, but has stepped up a level with the inclusion of O’Keeffe and Jordan Cox this season.
Challenges lay ahead for the quartet of Peugeots as two circuits new to the package, Queensland Raceway and Sandown return to the schedule for the first time since 2019.
However, expect the French hot hatches to be in contention regardless as arguably the four GRM entries feature the strongest driver line-up on the grid.
If one area has plagued O’Keeffe’s TCR career, it’s consistency. This can’t be said in regards to this season making him a dangerous proposition entering a title defining three rounds.
Don’t forget, the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series and SpeedSeries continues at Queensland Raceway on August 5-7.