• PAYCE Head Office, Sydney NSW.

Round 1 Wrap Up - TCR Australia with PAYCE MD, Brian Boyd.

TCR Australia's debut round gets a big tick from teams, drivers and fans

Brian Boyd and Team PAYCE report from the debut round of the TCR series in Sydney.

In the lead up to the first round at Sydney Motorsport Park, teams took part in a test day at Winton, where it became clear that no one marque dominated and that teams and drivers who came to grips with the front-wheel drive, turbocharged cars the quickest would likely be up front.

Opening Practice the First True Test – Brian Boyd

The first true test came on Friday in the opening practice at Sydney Motorsport Park in perfect weather conditions and initially it looked as though the Hyundai 130Ns might have an edge with all three in the top four on times.

At the conclusion of practice two in the afternoon, the Hyundai of Michael Almond was on top of the times, but Dylan O'Keeffe in the Alfa Romeo and John Martin and Tony D'Alberto in the Hondas had improved from practice one to be not far off Almond's time. All eight marques were represented in the top 10, confirming their closeness in performance.

Honda Earns First Pole in the First Round of the TCR Series – Brian Boyd

With more laps under their belts, qualifying on Saturday was set to be interesting, and by the end of the 30 minute session, Tony D'Alberto in the Wall Racing Honda emerged victorious and earned the honour as the first pole-sitter for the first-ever TCR Australia race. Many other drivers had shown improvement with the first eight all making it into the one minute 34 seconds bracket.

Clean Race 1 Win for Jason Bright in his Volkswagen – Brian Boyd

Race one had an early drama before the start when James Moffat's Renault suffered an oil leak and had to be trucked from the track. As the race got underway, it was Jason Bright in his Volkswagen who jumped away cleanly to lead the field into turn one and from there he was never headed to take a relatively easy win. Behind him, D'Alberto was under threat from Will Brown in the Hyundai, but despite some hard charging from Brown, D'Alberto was able to hold him off to take second, with Brown third. Michael Almond exhibited some spirited driving but came to grief with another competitor, resulting in an unplanned pit stop for temporary repairs.

Driver Confidence Apparent in Race 2 – Brian Boyd

Race two saw more action than Saturday's debut race as drivers became confident and accustomed to the characteristics of their cars. Will Brown and Dylan O'Keeffe made the best starts from the second row, with O'Keeffe taking the led by turn 3. O'Keeffe looked set for his first win, but Brown was able to bridge the gap and shadow him for several laps before making his move. A Safety Car was required on lap 9 when Alexandra Whitley found the sand trap and that brought the field back together. With three laps of racing remaining, Brown dived on O'Keeffe and successfully pulled off the pass and went on to take the win with O'Keeffe second and Bright third.

Close Racing in the Final Race Showcases the Potential of TCR – Brian Boyd

Race three produced the best race of the round with lots of spirited racing and close dices. Pole-sitter Brown was slow to start and O'Keeffe once again found himself in the lead, while Brown, D'Alberto and Heimgartner had their own battle. An altercation on the start between Rik Breukers in the Audi and Jimmy Vernon in the Alfa Romeo put paid to their chances and brought out the Safety Car. A restart on lap five had O'Keeffe, Heimgartner and Brown fighting for the lead, before Heimgartner retired with mechanical issues. Brown passed O'Keefe in the closing stage and went on to bank his second win. Nathan Morcom attracted the attention of the stewards and was penalised a total of 60 seconds for three incidents. With five DNFs, the field was depleted somewhat by race end, but not before there was some exciting and close racing that showed the potential of the category to grow.

Will Brown Leads the Championship after Round 1 – Brian Boyd

On the championship leaderboard after round one, Will Brown leads as a result of his two wins, with Dylan O'Keeffe second after two second placings and Tony D'Alberto third on the leaderboard after one second and one third placing.

Round two of the TCR Australia touring car series is at Phillip Island on 6-9 June.

*****Go Team PAYCE*****