D’Alberto Fends off World Tour Stars for Bathurst Pole
Honda Wall Racing’s Tony D’Alberto has resisted a strong challenge from the stars of the Kumho TCR World Series to claim pole position for the final round of the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst International.
The reigning TCR Australia champion set a 2m 13.3568s on his second flying lap to best Cyan racing Lynk & Co’s Yann Ehrlacher by nearly four tenths of a second.
The Frenchman however will be starting five places further back after a forced engine change in between the two practice sessions on Friday, meaning Cyan Racing Lynk & Co teammate Santiago Urrutia will join D’Alberto on the front row.
The field was reduced by one before the first segment of qualifying after Will Harris was forced to withdraw his Exclusive Switchboards / Wall Racing Honda after aggravating an existing rib injury during practice.
The TCR World Tour stars made their presence known right out of the blocks in Qualifying One, with the top eight positions filled by international drivers after the first flying laps.
Seven World Tour drivers would progress into Qualifying Two, with Yann Ehrlacher continuing his Friday form by going quickest of all in his Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, only six hundredths ahead of teammate Santiago Urrutia.
The big story to come out of Qualifying One was the struggle experienced by TCR Australia Series leader Bailey Sweeny, who could only muster sixteenth outright and seventh of the TCR Australia runners.
This paled in comparison to his HMO Customer Racing teammate and main championship rival Josh Buchan, who was one of three TCR Australia competitors to progress to Qualifying Two, alongside D’Alberto and Zac Soutar.
Other big names to miss Qualifying Two included World Tour stars Norbert Michelisz and Ma Qing Hua in eleventh and twelfth, and TCR Australia frontrunners Will Brown and Aaron Cameron in thirteenth and fourteenth outright.
Ehrlacher and Urrutia looked to have the upper hand after the first flying lap in qualifying, with the Frenchman two hundredths ahead of his Uruguayan teammate before D’Alberto improved markedly on his second lap.
Buchan would end up eighth outright, and second of the TCR Australia runners in a big boost to his championship aspirations, ahead of the Audis of Zac Soutar and Frederic Vervisch who both had front tyre issues in Qualifying Two.
Race One for the combined Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series and Kumho TCR World Tour field begins at 4:15pm AEDT.
You can catch all the action live, ad break free, and on demand on Stan Sport, with the race also broadcast on free to air via 9Gem and 9Go (check your local guides).