25 February 2023 | General

Bailey Sweeny opens the season with victory

HMO Customer Racing young gun Bailey Sweeny got his pursuit to the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia title off to the best start by taking the opening victory at AWC Race Tasmania.

It was a dominant performance from the rising star as he was never headed for the 30-lap encounter.

The two Audi RS3 LMS TCR Gen2s of Will Brown and Zac Soutar failed to make the start, ensuring a couple of vacant spots on the grid, while Josh Buchan was penalised for a turbo boost irregularity dropping him to the rear of grid.

Sweeny was the sole car on the front-row, but it was the Valvoline Team GRM Peugeot of Aaron Cameron making the best start around the outside, but was run wide dropping to fifth.

This elevated Tony D’Alberto to second in the Honda Wall Racing Civic Type R TCR and Kody Garland in the other Team Valvoline GRM Peugeot rounded out the podium through the opening lap.

The battle for fourth heated up as Garry Rogers Motorsport stablemates Jordan Cox in the Schaeffler entry and Cameron tangled at the hairpin.

It remained status quo for much of the race as Sweeny continued to extend his lead to D’Alberto throughout as Garland maintained third.

The big mover was Buchan in the HMO Customer Racing Hyundai Elantra (i30 Sedan N) TCR as he was up to seventh by lap 15 leading to a close battle with Cox.

Buchan failed to find a way through, although both were side-by-side dualling for much of the race’s second half.

In the end, Sweeny took a lights-to-flag victory to get his title attack off to the best start in the absence of Brown and Soutar, while D’Alberto was runner up 7.6s in arrears.

It proved a perfect Peugeot debut for Garland as he scored third ahead of GRM teammates Burson Auto Parts Racing GRM’s Ben Bargwanna, Cameron and Cox.

Buchan maintained seventh ahead of BTCC race winner Tom Oliphant’s Autoglym ASM Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR.

Forza Brakes Motorsport’s Lachlan Mineeff was ninth from Michael Clemente and Iain McDougall rounded out the results.

The Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series action continues tomorrow at 1:30pm AEDT live and uninterrupted on Stan Sport.