10 September 2023 |

Sweeny Completes Sensational Sunday Sweep at Sandown

HMO Customer Racing’s Bailey Sweeny has placed himself in a very strong position to clinch his first Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series title after another dominant drive in Race Three at Sandown.

Sweeny was able to make his way by the fast-starting Peugeot of Aaron Cameron in the middle of the race and was able to pull away to claim his fifth win of the 2023 season, as the rest of the field engaged in an old-school touring car tussle at the historic Melbourne venue.

For the third time in as many TCR Australia races this weekend, the best start came from the second row, as Cameron’s Team Valvoline GRM entry got an incredible launch from third to split the front row of Sweeny and Lachlan Mineeff into turn one.

Ben Bargwanna had a hairy moment on the opening lap when he was forced to sail through the runoff area at turn six after bumping doors with Tony D’Alberto’s Honda Civic, though rejoined with no issue.

Three battle packs quickly formed through the field, with Cameron and Sweeny fighting for the lead, followed by an all-Audi fight for third between Mineeff and Zac Soutar, with D’Alberto and Cox leading a vigorous battle for fifth.

The rivalry that boiled over at Queensland Raceway threatened to do so once again as Cox received a bad sportsmanship flag for blocking the reigning champion, with his defence inviting Bargwanna, Josh Buchan, Michael Clemente, Kody Garland, and Tom Oliphant all into the battle.

D’Alberto was then forced into a wild off at turn two whilst attempting to sail around the outside of the Schaeffler GRM Peugeot, allowing Michael Clemente’s Cupra to split the pair.

Garland would soon exit the battle after slipping off into the gravel at turn nine on lap six, though as has been the case throughout the weekend, he was able to rejoin without bringing out the Safety Car, though had another spin at turn one later on.

Meanwhile at the front of the field, Sweeny made his move on Cameron on lap eight, diving down the inside to take the lead of the race, where he would stay for the balance of the race.

Whilst the battles for first and fifth calmed down as the race progressed, the battle for third continued throughout the race as Soutar and Mineeff were barely separated by anything more than a second for the vast majority of the race.

That was until lap eighteen, when Soutar ran wide at Dandenong Road in his Audi, allowing Mineeff to draw alongside in his older 2017-spec RS3 on the run into the final complex.

Mineeff was able to get the inside run into turn twelve leading onto the front straight, however the Audis made wheel-to-wheel contact, forcing the Team Soutar Motorsport entry out on the spot.

The Purple Sector entry was able to continue on, now in third, however had a right-front tyre failure heading into turn one on the penultimate lap, forcing Mineeff into retirement.

Suddenly the earlier battle for fifth became the fight for the last step of the podium, as Cox was once again forced to to desperately fend against the faster cars behind.

This time it was Michael Clemente who got aggressive with the birthday boy, bumping the rear of the Peugeot at turn four on the final lap, impacting both of their runs onto the back straight.

The biggest beneficiary was Tony D’Alberto, who was able to get a big run on both Cox and Clemente, and swooped around the outside of turn six to clinch a last-gasp podium behind Sweeny and Cameron, who were over fifteen seconds up the road.

The stars of the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series return to the track alongside some of the world’s best touring car drivers at Race Sydney on November 3-4, as part of the Kumho TCR World Tour.