New year means new Bailey Sweeny
HMO Customer Racing’s Bailey Sweeny is sitting comfortably on top of the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series after his winning his second round of the season at last weekend’s Hi-Tec Oils Race Winton.
The 19-year-old had a perfect start to the season by taking wins two wins out of three at the opening round of the season at AWC Race Tasmania.
Consistent top five finishes at Phillip Island then ensured he would hold the series lead heading into the third round at the Winton Motor Raceway last weekend.
After qualifying in second behind Phillip Island race winner Michael Clemente in his rapid new Cupra Leon, Sweeny maintained the position in the opening race to set himself up for another showdown in Sunday’s final race.
But before then, Sweeny was able to muster some valuable points after working his way up to fifth in the reverse grid format race on Sunday morning.
When the time for the third race had come, the New South Welshman couldn’t have made it look any easier – finishing 20 seconds ahead of his closest competitor and HMO Customer Racing teammate Josh Buchan (the second largest winning margin in series history).
While Sweeny was thrilled to take the race win, he wasn’t expecting to do so in such convincing fashion.
“It was definitely a strong weekend, to come away with the win in the final race over 20 seconds ahead was pretty amazing,” Sweeny said.
“It was about five laps in I could see Josh (Buchan) getting further and further behind, when the engineer came on the radio and told me, I was like ‘What, are you sure? It was definitely surprising.
“I was getting updates on the gap throughout the race, when I won at Bathurst last year it was the second biggest at the time of 14 seconds, I did everything I could to beat that back then but couldn’t quite get there.”
After joining the series in 2022, Sweeny was adamant that his fast start to the season plays a big role in his continued success in the category.
“I definitely have more confidence than last year, coming off the first round win also helps because I didn’t expect to have a gap in the standings like I do now, so confidence is very high,” Sweeny added.
“We have been in good form all year and Winton was a track that suited our car, so it worked in our favour quite well.
“It’s definitely a positive weekend for the title race.”
The results are all the more impressive when considering his lack of at circuits like Winton as well as Queensland Raceway – the location of the fourth round of the 2023 season.
“I have done two test days at Winton in the past, but it was my first race there ever,” Sweeny explained.
“The hardest part about it was judging the braking zones. Tracks like Bathurst give you a long braking point while you only have around 50 metres at Winton, so that took some getting used to.
“We have a test day scheduled in at QR before the next round, and I have also got a couple of Hyundai N drive days planned too, so anything in a car, in a seat, going round in circles keeps you in check.
“Last year was my first race there, but we had good pace and qualified fourth and worked our way back after being turned around, so hopefully it’s another good weekend for us and we can extend the lead at the top again.”
The next round of the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series will take place at Queensland Raceway as part of the fifth round of the Shannons SpeedSeries calendar on 11-13 August.