Will Brown breaks win drought to take Sandown finale
In a closely fought third Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series race at Sandown, LIQUI MOLY Team MPC’s Will Brown has taken his first win since 2019.
Swyftx GRM Peugeot’s Jordan Cox led early, but Brown was able to capitalise on a small mistake to hold the ascendency until the end, despite a late challenge from Autoglym Ashley Seward Motorsport Alfa Romeo of Michael Caruso.
Zac Soutar in the Spicers Australia Honda Civic Type R TCR and Brown shared the front row, but it was Cox from the second row leading into Turn 1.
Needing a victory to close the gap to Honda Wall Racing’s Tony D’Alberto in the standings, Cox dropped Soutar as the privateer made a mistake by running wide at Turn 9 allowing Brown and earlier race winner Ben Bargwanna in the Burson Auto Parts Racing Peugeot through.
A charge from Brown and also a mistake from Cox at Turn 9 where he went sideways enabled the Audi to close right in as the inaugural series winner had his best opportunity to take his first victory of this season.
Meanwhile Soutar closed on Bargwanna, but the Autoglym Ashley Seward Motorsport Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR of Michael Caruso was quickest of the lot and passed the privateer Honda at Turn 11.
Caruso now set his sights on Bargwanna for the final podium spot and passed him almost immediately to pursue the two leaders, who were 5.2s ahead.
Following a 5s penalty in Race 2, Luke King’s weekend failed to improve after two off-track excursions led to retirement of the Moutai/ZIP PAY Hyundai i30 N TCR.
Cox and Brown in front squirmed around Sandown without making contact as the GRM driver had an answer for any passing attempt.
Caruso was closing as Bargwanna, Soutar, HMO Customer Racing’s Josh Buchan, D’Alberto, Bailey Sweeny and James Moffat in the LMCT+ Racing GRM Renault Megane RS TCR battled.
Soutar continued to drop position as behind D’Alberto and Sweeny made contact entering Turn 2, with Moffat just missing the HMO Customer Racing Hyundai.
There was a change at the front as Brown successfully passed Cox at Turn 11 after the Swyftx Peugeot ran wide two corners earlier and even more of a concern was Caruso. The Autoglym Alfa Romeo driver was the fastest in the field and made the move at Turn 4, with Brown now his next target.
Caruso took 0.5s out of Brown on the first lap, but the Audi driver steadied to hold a 1.8s margin to the flag denying the Autoglym Alfa Romeo driver a redemption victory following his heartbreaking engine failure at Queensland Raceway.
Cox maintained third from Buchan, D’Alberto, Bargwanna, Sweeny, Schaeffler GRM Peugeot’s Dylan O’Keeffe, AWC MPC Racing’s Jay Hanson and Moffat.
A collision with Moffat at Turn 2 forced Soutar off track and he dropped out of contention to cross the line 16th as the Garry Rogers Motorsport driver was given a 5s penalty for the incident.
Nathan Morcom, Kody Garland, Iain McDougall, Michael Clemente, Lachlan Mineeff and Soutar rounded out the finishers.
Just recapping, 5s penalties were handed out to Caruso for a safety car breach and Sweeny for his part in the opening collision with the Autoglym Alfa Romeo driver. Hanson was handed a 30s penalty for causing a collision with Moffat at Turn 4.
Supercheap Auto Bathurst International will host the final round of the series on November 11-13.