3 November 2023 |

Bargwanna Stuns the World in Sydney Qualifying

Ben Bargwanna has soared to a sensational pole position in a tricky qualifying session for the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series, beating the stars of the Kumho Tyre TCR World Tour in the process.

Bargwanna will head up an all-Australian front row after setting a 1m 37.8033s, and will have Will Brown for company in the MPC Team LIQUI MOLY Audi under lights tonight for the first of three races this weekend, the Queenslander just under eight tenths off the pace.

The form guide from practice was thrown out of the window right as the first segment of qualifying began as the heavens opened, with the international drivers having to relearn the Western Sydney circuit in wet conditions.

Frenchman Jimmy Clairet was the first to test the limits with a big slide exiting turn two in the Hangcha Forklifts Peugeot, before TCR Australia debutant Will Harris had a big scare with a spin through turn one, fortunately escaping without damage to the Exclusive Switchboards / Wall Racing Honda.

Spaniard Mikel Azcona made the most of the tricky conditions at the beginning of Qualifying One, setting a 1m 40.8794s in the opening stanza to go eight tenths clear of Will Brown’s MPC Team LIQUI MOLY Audi.

Early laps proved to be vital in Qualifying One, as the ten cars that advanced into Qualifying Two were made up of five TCR World Tour entries and five TCR Australia entries.

The Cyan Racing Lynk & Co team that had dominated practice was caught out by the weather, with Yann Ehrlacher qualifying thirteenth, Thed Bjork fifteenth, and Santiago Urrutia sixteenth, with fellow World Tour drivers Frederic Vervisch and Nestor Girolami also missing out.

Conditions were slightly dryer for Qualifying Two, as the top ten drivers battled it out in damp conditions to settle the order for the first five rows of the grid.

Bargwanna was electrifying in the Burson Auto Parts Racing Peugeot, at one stage putting almost three seconds on the field as an inspired tyre choice to remain on slicks paid off in spectacular fashion.

Those on wets struggled for grip, most noticeably Hungarian Hyundai ace Norbert Michelisz who slid his way around Sydney Motorsport Park in spectacular style, eventually netting eighth outright and fourth in TCR World Tour.

Row two of the grid will be an Australia vs the world affair, with Azcona’s Hyundai lining up alongside TCR Australia points leader Bailey Sweeny’s older spec Hyundai i30N, ahead of internationals Rob Huff (Audi) and Ma Qing Hua (Lynk & Co).

Sweeny’s HMO Customer Racing teammate Josh Buchan qualified seventh ahead of Michelisz, with Jimmy Clairet and Zac Soutar rounding out the top ten.

Race One for the Kumho Tyre TCR World Tour and Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series begins at 8:40pm AEDT.

You can catch all the action live, ad break free, and on demand on Stan Sport.