Sweeny cruises to race and round win
HMO Customer Racing’s Bailey Sweeny has taken the second-biggest win in Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series history with a crushing 20 second win at Hi-Tec Oils Race Winton.
Chaos reigned behind as Sweeny was taking the chequered flag, as the fight for second was turned on its head with three corners to go.
Josh Buchan was tagged in the rear by Michael Clemente at turn ten on the final lap, sending Buchan off into the grass.
Clemente then attempted to redress the situation and allowed Buchan to re-enter the track in front of him, however Zac Soutar in fourth to get a monumental run on both heading into the final two corners.
Soutar had to take to the grass on the outside to make the move on Clemente, but in trying to squeeze back onto the circuit for the braking zone, Soutar tagged the front of Clemente and the rear of Buchan.
Clemente was fired heavily into the outside wall, whilst Buchan was lucky not to meet the same fate as the Cupra.
It was an HMO Customer Racing front-row lockout on the grid, with Sweeny making a slightly better than the newer-spec i30N Sedan of teammate Buchan.
However, the best start came from Tony D’Alberto in fourth, who nearly stormed past both Hyundais into turn one, and entered the complex second, locked onto Sweeny’s rear bumper.
D’Alberto would receive no reward for his fantastic start however, as Buchan would squeeze the reigning champion wide at turn two, with D’Alberto dropping back down to seventh as a result.
There was further drama back in the pack, as the Honda of Brad Harris and the Peugeot of Ben Bargwanna both went off on the outside of turn two after making contact.
Another driver making their way to the front in the opening laps was Clemente, banging doors with Race 2 winner Tom Oliphant at turn three on lap two to go to fourth having started eighth on the grid after missing Race 2.
Sweeny then drove away into the setting Winton sun, with Buchan coming under serious pressure from Zac Soutar’s Audi RS3 LMS TCR, with Clemente soon joining to make it a three-way fight for second.
That wasn’t the only battle on track, as Tom Oliphant began to drop back through the pack and queued several cars up behind the Alfa Romeo Giulietta.
First D’Alberto, then Kody Garland’s Team Valvoline GRM Peugeot got by Oliphant, however Bargwanna, Clay Richards, Aaron Cameron, and Iain McDougall all continued to scrap at the back end of the top ten.
The ferocious battle took its toll, as Richards suffered a major right-front suspension failure exiting turn ten on lap twelve, cutting a promising debut TCR Australia weekend short.
The fight for second began to heat up on lap fifteen of eighteen, when Clemente dived down the inside of Soutar at turn seven on lap fifteen.
Clemente then continued to close the margin on Buchan, culminating in the dramatic final lap incidents with Soutar.
Following the battle-scarred Buchan and Soutar was Jordan Cox for Schaeffler GRM, with Lachlan Mineeff rounding out the top five with another strong performance for Purple Sector.
Round five of the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series heads to Queensland Raceway on August 11-13 at Round 5 of the Shannons SpeedSeries.