26 February 2023 | General

Two from three for Bailey Sweeny to finish opening round title leader

Young gun Bailey Sweeny has stamped his authority on the title early by winning the final race of AWC Race Tasmania, the opening round of the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series.

Sweeny took advantage of an intermittent problem afflicting the Honda Civic Type R TCR of reigning series winner Tony D’Alberto to take his second win of the weekend as Jordan Cox fought off the advances of his stablemate to take third in the Schaeffler GRM Peugeot 308 TCR.

D’Alberto won the start as polesitter Sweeny in the HMO Customer Racing Hyundai i30 N TCR dropped to third after a robust move from Cox elevated him behind the leader.

Valvoline Team GRM’s Aaron Cameron just failed to follow his stablemate Cox through on Sweeny in fourth as the trio dropped 2s behind D’Alberto.

This order changed when Sweeny took Cox down the inside at the penultimate corner before a switchback resulted in minor contact, but the HMO Customer Racing entry took second.

Behind the leading quartet, Autoglym ASM’s Tom Oliphant in the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR was holding fifth from the sole MPC Team LIQUI MOLY Audi of Lachlan Mineeff in what was a large battle pack developing.

This featured the second Valvoline Team GRM Peugeot of Kody Garland, a recovering Ben Bargwanna in the Burson Auto Parts Racing GRM example, Josh Buchan’s HMO Customer Racing Hyundai Elantra (i30 Sedan N) TCR and Michael Clemente in the Carl Cox Motorsport RS3 LMS TCR Gen1.

Buchan was also recovering after a turbo pipe split in Race 2.

As Sweeny pursued D’Alberto, Cameron just failed to pass Cox for second at the penultimate corner as he slid down the inside, but was unable to pull up allowing the Schaeffler GRM Peugeot back through and allowing Oliphant to catch up.

It was an interesting race at the front as Sweeny was gradually closing in on D’Alberto in a tug of war battle, with the margin remaining around a second. This changed when an intermittent gear shifter problem interrupted the reigning series winner’s rhythm leading to Sweeny to take the lead.

Cox in third was still unable to make inroads on D’Alberto, but Cameron was closing having broken away from Oliphant as the battle behind now led by Garland started to heat up.

However, it was Sweeny taking the win from D’Alberto, Cox, Cameron, Oliphant, Garland, Mineeff, Bargwanna, Buchan, Clemente and Iain McDougall for Challenge Motorsport.

Sweeny now leads the standings ahead of Round 2 of the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series at Phillip Island as part of the Shannons SpeedSeries on May 12-14.