27 February 2024 |

Strong Start to Title Defence for Buchan, as Oliphant Makes First HMO Appearance

Press Release – Hyundai driver Josh Buchan began his TCR title defence with his first podium appearance at Sandown Raceway, finishing second in the opening round of the 2024 Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series.

Buchan was among the front runners all weekend, scoring pole position, finishing sixth in the reverse grid sprint and twice runner-up in the maximum points-scoring races. He is second in the championship standings, just two points behind the leader, Ben Bargwanna.

Buchan was immediately on the pace as he began his title defence, setting the fifth and fourth fastest times respectively in the opening practice sessions on Friday.

On the other side of the garage, it was a difficult start to the season for HMO Customer Racing’s new recruit, Tom Oliphant, who was hampered by technical issues on his Hyundai i30 N TCR.

Oliphant took a more conservative approach to practice while becoming familiar with the Hyundai i30 N TCR and finished eighth and 11th in opening practice respectively.

Buchan turned up the heat in qualifying to score his third pole position since joining the TCR Series while Oliphant nursed a technical issue that restricted his top speed and could only manage the 12th fastest time.

In the opening race, Buchan made a strong start from the front row and led for most of the opening lap, only to lose first place to Ben Bargwanna in the last corner after he pinched the brakes and ran slightly wide. He maintained pressure on the new race leader for the next few laps, but Bargwanna had the advantage and eventually took the chequered flag 5.9 seconds in front of Buchan.

Oliphant had a fast getaway and claimed five positions on the opening lap, but a minor clash damaged the cooling of his car that caused a loss of power. The British expat desperately attempted to defend his position but dropped back to finish 11th.

In the second race, which reversed the top 10 on the starting grid, Buchan made a clean start and improved three places to finish sixth while Oliphant incurred extensive damage to the front of his car when a spring became lodged in his front bumper following a first-lap incident between two other competitors. He soldiered on to cross the line in 12th.

Starting from pole position in the final race, Buchan was overtaken by race one rival, Ben Bargwanna, off the start line. He harassed the Peugeot driver for the entire race, but a fuel pressure problem late in the race stymied his chances of challenging for the lead and he crossed the line in second once again.

Oliphant was another innocent victim in someone else’s accident when he was spun around in the middle of the race. The incident caused further damage to his car, forcing him into the pits for repairs. He returned to the race and took the chequered flag in 12th position but was later declared a non-finisher as he only completed 12 laps.

HMO Customer Racing now heads to Symmons Plains in Tasmania for the second round of the 2024 TCR Australia Championship on March 15-17.

Car 1: i30 N TCR – Josh Buchan
“I’m extremely happy with the performance and our results from the weekend, especially considering the troubles we encountered in the lead-up to Sandown. The i30 N proved to be fast and reliable on our side of the garage, with pole position, two fastest laps and a podium finish with second overall on the championship points.

“Little Bargs (Ben Bargwanna) did a great job and I don’t think we had the car to get him in the last race when a little technical issue crept in with a few laps to run. Either way, it’s my best result at Sandown Raceway, which I’m very happy with, and I can’t wait to go to Tassie and hopefully get to stand one-step higher on the podium at Symmons Plains.”

Car 15: i30 N TCR – Tom Oliphant
“It’s been a very mixed bag for the team this weekend. Congratulations to Josh and the guys on his side of the garage, but unfortunately it wasn’t the same for me. The team is fantastic, and the atmosphere is exactly what I want, but sadly we had issues with our car that go beyond anybody’s control. We had a severe case of bad luck this weekend, but the good news is we think we understand the problem and I’m confident we will have a fast car that will bring us back to the front in Tassie.”