11 September 2023 |

Sweeny builds lead as field condenses heading to World Tour rounds

TRAILING by a single point entering the round, HMO Customer Racing’s Bailey Sweeny will take a 30-point series lead into the back-to-back final rounds of this year’s Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series. 

The big swing in title momentum came in a weekend that delivered Sweeny his first Astron Tech Pole Award and wins in two of the three races at Sandown last weekend.

It could prove critical heading into the final two rounds of the season, to be run in conjunction with the first visit by the Kumho TCR World Tour to local circuits.

Sweeny’s emphatic Sandown performance was the third time this season he’s topped the points at the end of a round, the race three finishing order that placed the Hyundai driver ahead of Aaron Cameron and Tony D’Alberto also reflecting the overall weekend result.

“I couldn’t be happier with two race wins, my first pole position and reclaiming the championship lead that I’ve held all year except for after the last round in Queensland,” Sweeny said.

“It’s great to have a bit of a buffer on the championship ladder heading into the final two rounds with the TCR World Tour, because I reckon there could be a bit of chaos with those guys on the grid at Sydney Motorsport Park and Bathurst. But I can’t wait to get stuck into it against them.”

Having eked out a lead by a solitary point following Queensland, Sweeny’s HMO teammate Josh Buchan remains second in the championship.

However, while he is still well within striking distance of his teammate he is now only eight points clear of the charging Aaron Cameron and his Valvoline GRM Peugeot.

“We knew coming into Sandown that the track wouldn’t play to the strengths of the Hyundai i30 Sedan N TCR, and we weren’t wrong – it was a pretty tough weekend on our side of the garage,” Buchan explained.

“We lack straight line speed, and Sandown’s long straights really highlighted that. We had good lap speed, but we couldn’t race when there were cars around us, and it made me a bit of a sitting duck.

“We worked hard all weekend and still scored good points in each of the three races. We’re still second in the championship and we’ve got two tracks to finish off the year that I’m really looking forward to and think will suit our car a lot better.”

Sandown represented the second round in a row Cameron took points out of Buchan, the GRM driver now just 38 points from the series lead.

Defending champion said farewell to his title-winning Honda Civic Type R with another strong finish and another gain up the championship leaderboard at Sandown as he continues his quest for back-to-back titles.

The Wall Racing Honda pilot takes delivery of his brand-new JAS-built car prior to Sydney Motorsport Park’s next round, where the Victorian will aim to continue his relentless climb up the leaderboard seen in recent rounds.

A challenging weekend for Jordan Cox drops the Schaeffler GRM Peugeot behind D’Alberto for the first time this year, the Sunday birthday boy now 93 points behind the series lead in fifth position.

Ben Bargwanna has climbed to sixth position while Lachlan Mineeff remains best of the Audi brigade in seventh.

Cupra pilot Michael Clemente had a fast finish to an otherwise challenging Sandown weekend and sits eighth in the series, ahead of Kody Garland and Tom Oliphant – who moves back into the series top-10 after missing Queensland.

Points remain provisional pending confirmation of final results from Sandown.