Ben Bargwanna makes successful debut, Norbert Michelisz makes history
Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series driver Ben Bargwanna has made a successful international debut at Portimao contesting the inaugural race of the Kumho TCR World Tour.
Driving the Burson Auto Parts Peugeot 308 TCR with support from French squad Team Clairet Sport, Bargwanna finished 17th in a strong field of combined Kumho TCR World Tour and TCR Europe drivers.
Hyundai meanwhile scored pole with Hungarian Norbert Michelisz and he converted this into race victory as Mikel Azcona completed a 1-2 for the Korean marque, delighting BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Team Manager Gabriele Tarquini.
Pacesetters during the opening practice sessions, Comtoyou Racing’s Rob Huff and Frederic Vervisch finished just behind, with the latter holding off a spirited challenge from Nestor Girolami racing the Honda Civic Type R FL5 TCR he has led the testing program of for the first time for ALM Motorsport.
Lynk & Co debuted its upgraded 03 TCR with sixth through to eighth for Ma Quing Hua, Yann Ehrlacher and Thed Bjork. Comtoyou Racing’s TCR Europe drivers John Filippi and Kobe Pauwels rounded out the top 10 positions.
Bargwanna qualified 19th and gradually made progress throughout the race despite a driver stalling in front, which bodes well for Race 2.
“It was an interesting day to say the least,” Bargwanna summarised.
“It’s been a massive learning curve and I think today has been a real eye opener. Practice was good, but today was another level.
“Qualifying was really good, we had a great car and it looked like we’d be in a pretty good position, but I made a mistake at the end of the session. I was personal best in the first two sectors and stuffed up the last, so it was looking good, but that’s the way it goes.
“You have to be absolutely perfect in these things to get the result.
“Where I started, I couldn’t see the start lights, which made it difficult and I missed the start of the race. We fought back, passed some cars, got the elbows out and it was really cool, these guys race really, really hard. It’s cool to learn a few things.
“I think there was a lot to learn out of the race, especially for me from a driver point of view. We have a few changes with the car, so for Race 2 if we put it all together it will be a very good finish.
“We have to start 19th again, but if we can see the lights this time we should get a good start and we should be able to fight it within the top 15.
“Team and car are working really well, just the driver has to put it together.”
Race 2 for Bargwanna as part of the Kumho TCR World Tour at Portimao will be broadcast live, ad-free and on-demand via Stan Sport from 8:15pm AEST.