TCR Australia champion reveals biggest threat in his bid to go back-to-back
The number ‘one’ on his window shows he’s last year’s champ, but Tony D’Alberto starts the new TCR season knowing he’ll have it harder than ever in a bid for title number two.
The Honda driver won the 2022 TCR Australia Series in dramatic circumstances, beating Audi ace Will Brown by just 12 points in a thrilling finale at the Bathurst International.
It marked D’Alberto’s first title win in the series having fallen short of the gong in the inaugural 2019 season. On that occasion, it was Brown who beat D’Alberto.
Now, he’s got the monkey off his back.
“We’re very proud of what we achieved last year and that’s why I wanted to run the number one, not only for myself, but also for the team at Wall Racing, Honda Australia, all my supporters,” D’Alberto told Wide World of Sports.
“It’s a bit of a celebration to thank them for supporting me for the last few years to get to that number one. So it does look nice in the car and hopefully we can do it justice.”
The brutal reality facing D’Alberto this year is that he has one of the oldest cars on the grid.
Although he won the 2022 series, it was evident throughout the year that the newer, second-generation Audi was the quickest car.
Jay Hanson took four wins, but inconsistency and DNFs removed him from contention for the crown.
Now there are two of the new Audis on the grid in the hands of Brown and privateer Zac Soutar.
“It does make it more difficult,” D’Alberto explained.
“You’re not going to build a car that’s slower and manufacturers will want to make sure the new car is faster so people buy the new car.
“But in saying that, I’ve had the same car for a few years now, we know how to tune it.
“The reliability is second to none, so there are a lot of positives to stick with what we’ve got.
“But on raw pace, it would be hard to say the new car wouldn’t be faster and that’s why people have upgraded in the category and we hope we can too.”
Honda has a new car of its own coming out this year. Customers will start taking delivery of it from April.
Whether D’Alberto gets a new car remains up in the air.
“We’d like to,” said D’Alberto when asked if a new car was on the cards.
“That was definitely on the planning board, but nothing locked away just yet.
“They’re not cheap, new cars. We’ve got to work out if we can afford to get one, but definitely, I’d like too.”
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