Team Soutar rewarded after miraculous repair job
Team Soutar have left Sandown International Raceway with their fourth Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series trophy of the year after an impressive repair job on Friday night.
Steering the Tufflift Racing entry, Zac Soutar was eager to compete in his home state of Victoria with high hopes after a podium finish at Queensland Raceway last month – and had the early pace, topping the timesheets in a competitive Practice 2.
Despite his speed, the session ended on a low note after an incident at the Dandenong Road corner left the Team Soutar squad with a long night of car repairs.
After hours of work, the Audi RS3 LMS TCR was ready to go for qualifying early Saturday afternoon, where Soutar would ultimately claim a top three result in one of the more fascinating sessions of the year.
A poor start to the opening race then saw the Victorian drop to fourth, but after making his way back into the podium positions, he found himself in an entertaining dual with 2019 champion, Will Brown – before narrowly missing out on a provisional podium.
Soutar’s luck would quickly change, a post-race penalty to second-place Aaron Cameron would elevate Soutar and the team into the final podium position.
Despite the circumstances, Soutar was happy to walk away with the trophy after such an incredible effort by his team to get the car back in working order for Saturday’s action.
“It’s a weird feeling to grab a podium after someone up ahead receives a penalty,” Soutar explained.
“But my team definitely deserved a reward for doing such a great job with fixing the car after my crash in practice, so we’ll take it.”
The category’s reverse grid race on Sunday morning proved difficult for the 26-year-old after a solid start was ruined when pushed wide at the exit of turn four, dropping him back to 12th as a result.
Soutar would then charge back through the field to finish in seventh, before a potential second podium finish of the weekend was cruelly taken away in the dying stages of the final race.
Running in third for the majority of the outing, Soutar found himself in an intriguing battle with Lachlan Mineeff before contact between both cars forced the Tufflift Racing entry to retire with only two laps remaining – an incident Soutar would receive a 10 Series points penalty for, alongside the DNF.
“Unfortunately, race three on Sunday didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped. It’s always painful when you get so close to bringing home a podium only to have it taken away from you with a couple of laps to go,” Soutar said.
“But as they say, that’s racing. We’ll take confidence in the fact that both myself and the car continues to show front running pace, and we’ll come out swinging for when the World Tour teams and drivers arrive in November.
The results see Soutar move up one place to 11th in the overall standings, working his way back through the field after an uncharacteristically poor start to the year.
Soutar will be back in action at Race Sydney, as part of the Kumho TCR World Tour and Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series, when the category joins the bill for the seventh round of Shannons SpeedSeries at Sydney Motorsport Park on 3-4 November.