Brown on Top of the World in Crazy Sydney Opener
MPC Team LIQUI MOLY’s Will Brown has overcome rain, red flags, and the world’s best TCR drivers to win a wet and wild opening race for the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series at Sydney Motorsport Park.
In scenes eerily reminiscent of qualifying, rain spots began to fall on an illuminated Sydney Motorsport Park foreshadowing the incredible drama that was to come.
After a safety car restart on lap seven the heavens opened, and with the entire field stuck on slick tyres the vast majority of the field fired off into the turn two runoff at almost unabated speed in extraordinary scenes, though everyone miraculously escaped without damage.
The mix of wet conditions and cars off track forced race control to deploy the first red flag in the history of both TCR Australia and the TCR World Tour.
Earlier at the start, Brown’s Audi got a good initial launch off the front row, however Bargwanna got the better of the second phase to lead comfortably into turn one, however the international stars starting deep in the field were in the thick of the action early.
Norbert Michelisz went off at the exit of turn two on the opening lap in his Hyundai, whilst Cyan Racing Lynk & Co’s Santiago Urrutia made contact with Jordan Cox, spinning the Scaheffler Peugeot around, and sending the Uruguayan to the pits with suspension damage.
Michelisz would then be involved in a scary incident at the beginning of lap two, after contact with Tony D’Alberto sent the Honda Wall Racing Civic spearing off at high speed, fortunately pulling up just short of the barrier.
Another Australian would find trouble soon after as Zac Soutar’s Audi would grind to a halt with a mechanical issue at the exit of turn two on lap three following contact in the opening exchanges, with the safety car deployed one lap later.
The red flag would come out barely a minute after the safety car restart on lap seven, with the entire field being reset to the order they were in at the restart, that order being Brown leading from Mikel Azcona, Rob Huff, Josh Buchan, and Bargwanna.
The field – now on wet tyres – would trundle around behind the safety car once again after the red flag was lifted, and the race went green once again with seven laps to go in treacherous conditions.
Brown would get a great jump on Azcona, with the Queenslander’s Audi gapping the Spaniard’s Hyundai by over a second on the first lap back to green.
Further back in the pack, Nestor Girolami was making the most of the bunched field and wet conditions, as his Honda Wall Racing Civic quickly found itself up in fourth outright, and third in the TCR World Tour race.
The TCR World Tour battle for third quickly became the centre of attention as Girolami got into a fierce battle with the Cyan Racing Lynk & Co pair of Ma Qing Hua and Yann Ehrlacher, as well as the Audi Sport Comtoyou entry of Frederic Vervisch.
The Lynk & Co pair would find their way past the Argentine, who would proceed to sink back through the pack just as quickly as he had made his way through the field.
The picture for third outright also changed rapidly on the final lap, as Vervisch’s teammate Rob Huff fell from third to sixth on the final lap, with Ehrlacher initially promoted to the final step of the outright podium.
However the Frenchman would receive a five second penalty for a safety car restart infringement, dropping Ehrlacher to sixth and promoting his Chinese teammate Ma Qing Hua to the final step of the outright podium and Huff to third in TCR World Tour.
Meanwhile, Brown was in a league of his own out in front of the field, cruising home with more than seven seconds in hand over Azcona’s Hyundai in a breathtaking performance.
The second TCR Australia competitor home was Aaron Cameron, who stormed from seventeenth on the grid to seventh outright at the finish in his Team Valvoline GRM Peugeot.
Completing the TCR Australia podium was Jordan Cox’s Schaeffler GRM Peugeot, who missed out on the top ten by just three tenths of a second behind the struggling Girolami after a fierce battle with several instances of contact on the final lap.
Race Two for the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series and Kumho Tyre TCR World Tour begins at 4:05pm AEDT, with Girolami on pole position by virtue of the reverse top ten grid, before the third and final race under lights at 7:55pm.
You can catch all the action live, ad break free, and on demand on Stan Sport – with Race Two also broadcast on free to air via 9Gem.