Queensland Raceway round 4 Wrap Up
Queensland fans were treated to their first look at TCR racing over the weekend, with the added attraction of international TCR series driver, Jean-Karl Vernay taking on the locals in a one-off appearance.
Unfortunately due to illness, Jean-Karl was not able to compete in Sunday’s two races, but not before he secured pole for Saturday’s race, which he went on to win in convincing fashion.
A field of 18 were entered for the three races over the weekend, with Dylan O’Keeffe taking a round win with two wins and a second placing. Dylan was on the pace right from Friday’s practice sessions, topping the times in practice one and just missing out by a tenth of a second for the best time in practice two.
John Martin, driving the Wall Racing team Honda Civic Type R, continued his good form from the previous round win at The Bend by taking fastest time in practice two and was second fastest in qualifying to share the front row of the grid for race one.
Another popular addition to the field was former Bathurst winner, Russell Ingall, having his second taste of TCR in the Audi RS3 after three top six finishes at The Bend. His practice times were impressive and his fifth fastest time in qualifying had him on row three for race one.
Race one got underway in ideal weather conditions and Vernay led the field into the first turn, with D’Alberto, O’Keeffe and Ingall in hot pursuit. Behind them the packed field jockeyed for position, with Martin and championship leader, Brown coming together and leaving debris on the track,
A quick safety car period followed to clear the track before racing resumed with Vernay pulling away and by lap 11 he had a comfortable two and a half seconds lead. O’Keeffe had a strong hold on second spot as Ingall moved up a place with a podium finish in sight. Jason Bright was handed a ten second penalty following a clash with Leanne Tander.
Jean-Karl Vernay continued to dominate the race and crossed the line an impressive near-eight seconds in front of Dylan O’Keeffe with Russell Ingall taking a well-earned third place. Drive of the race went to James Moffat in the yellow Renault Megane after starting in pit lane and finishing in ninth spot.
With Jean-Karl Vernay unwell and a non-starter for the day, the field for race two moved up one position, putting O’Keeffe and Ingall side-by-side on the front row and young third generation racer, Aaron Seton, seconded to drive the second Audi RS3 starting from the rear of the field.
Andre Heimgartner was another out for the day due to an engine issue with the Kelly Racing Holden Astra.
O’Keeffe made the best start to lead into turn one as Aaron Cameron found gaps to slot into fourth as D’Alberto and Ingall fought for second. Ingall eventually passed and settled in for an unchallenged finish. D’Alberto had his own challenge from Cameron and Cameron pulled off a great move under brakes to slot into third place.
The three top positions remained unchanged to race end. A safety car-free race saw all 17 cars finish intact and ready for the final race of the round a half-hour later.
The field for race three was reduced when Alex Rullo suffered a broken driveshaft in his Holden Astra before the race started and Chris Pither in the GRM Renault was absent with a turbo issue.
Apart from visits to the pits by Molly Taylor with a smoking Subaru WRX and James Moffat to check for damage after an off-track excursion in the Renault, the race was relatively uneventful, with Dylan O’Keeffe notching up a double victory for the round, Russell Ingall adding a third trophy to his collection and Tony D’Alberto completing the podium trio.
With twelve races now decided, there have been six different winners. Dylan O’Keeffe in the Alfa Romeo Giulietta has caught up with Will Brown in the Hyundai with four wins apiece, although Will Brown holds on to his championship lead. Dylan O’Keeffe is second on the leaderboard ahead of Tony D’Alberto.
The TCR Australia Championship is now into the second half of the season, with the next round at Winton Raceway in rural Victoria on 31 August-1 September.