1 June 2024 |

The Reasoning Behind HMO’s Car Swap Grid Penalties

Regardless of where Josh Buchan qualified for the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series round at The Bend, he was only ever to start from the third row of the grid at best.

Buchan moves back into HMO Customer Racing’s Hyundai i30 Sedan N for this weekend, the same car that he drove to victory in last year’s series, after driving the opening rounds in one of the team’s older i30 Hatch N machines.

However, the downside of the swap is that he has to wear a five-place grid penalty for Saturday’s opening race.

Buchan set the second-fastest time during Saturday morning’s qualifying session, but will start Race 1 from only seventh on the grid.

The reason for the penalty is not due to the car swap, as such.

Rather, it’s due to the category’s rules around engine replacements.

Per TCR Australia’s Sporting Regulations, any driver that uses more than one engine during a season will attract a five-place grid penalty.

It’s a rule that has been in the Australian series’ rules for several seasons and also applies in other TCR Series around the world, although the magnitude of the penalty varies.

For example, in the TCR World Tour, the penalty for using a second engine is 12 grid positions.

Because the Sedan is fitted with a different engine to the one in the Hatch that Buchan raced up to this point, the rules say he must be penalised.

In theory, Buchan’s penalty could be avoided by moving the engine from the older Hatch into the newer Sedan, but HMO Customer Racing confirmed that the two units aren’t interchangeable.

The penalty was triggered as soon as Buchan rolled out of pitlane for the opening practice session of the weekend. In a twist of fate, both HMO Customer Racing entries will wear five-place grid penalties at The Bend.

Tom Oliphant moves into the Hatch that Buchan raced in the opening rounds of 2024 and has similarly attracted a penalty, which dropped him to 12th on the grid for Race 1.

In Oliphant’s case, his original engine could have been moved into the Hatch he will race this weekend.

But, given the car was raced to victory by Buchan last time out at Phillip Island, it was decided to keep the successful chassis and engine together.

Race one takes place at 2:45pm local time, live on 7plus.