MEDIA RELEASE/HMO Customer Racing – Photos: Velocity Magazine
Will Brown has been crowned champion of the inaugural TCR Australia Series at Sandown International Motor Raceway after extending his championship points lead to an unbeatable position with one round remaining.
HMO Customer Racing teammate Nathan Morcom battled through a tough weekend on track after a difficult qualifying session and an incident riddled Race 2.
Qualifying – Will Brown P4, Nathan Morcom P15
It was a slow start for both cars in the 20-minute session with Brown sitting in P8 and Morcom in P15 before the halfway mark.
Brown would soon find the spark as he climbed into P2 but would later drop to P4 in the dying minutes.
Morcom struggled with brake issues in the #11 car, a fault that left him near the rear of the field by the end of the session.
Race 1 – Will Brown P2, Nathan Morcom P10
Rain fell upon the track two hours before Race 1 was bound to get underway, but a late sunshine bloom prior to the start provided a sticky surface for the teams to decide what tyres they ran with for the 20 lap outing.
Brown enjoyed a strong getaway making his way to P2 instantly from the second row of the grid, while Morcom moved up one place into the opening turn.
Brown’s momentum was brief as Martin moved past him on lap 2, leaving a challenge for the series leader to stay in touch with the front-runners.
Morcom would jump into P13 after Heimgartner retired from the race on lap 5 as he continued to recover from a poor qualifying session.
Brown would load the pressure back onto Martin by lap 7 where he caught onto the tail of the Honda driver, with Cox trailing closely in P4.
Cox would make the move first and get past Brown, but the #30 car stayed in control and would climb back into P3 and eventually pick off Martin on lap 12.
As the race progressed, Morcom continued to slowly hover his way through the field to finish the #11 car inside the top ten.
Brown would close the gap on the leader towards the later stages of the race but ultimately it wasn’t enough as he crossed the line for a podium finish.
Race 2 – Will Brown P7, Nathan Morcom P14
Off the line, Brown would produce one of his worst starts of the year, dropping four places into the opening turn.
Morcom, on the other hand, had a clean start but would become undone on lap 2 when Fullwood tailed the #11 car at Turn 9.
The contact left Morcom stranded in the gravel trap outside the turn as the safety car deployed shortly after when Ingall went off at Turn 1 on lap 3.
Morcom returned to the track in P16 but went a lap down after a lengthy stint in the gravel. He would climb two spots after Martin and Whitley would drop out of the race to finish in P14.
Brown put himself in the mix again moving up to as high as P4 but would fall away to P11 throughout the race.
However, the series leader found a way to get back to pass four cars at the death to clinch a P7 finish.
Race 3 – Will Brown P7, Nathan Morcom P10
Moving into the last race of the weekend, Brown needed to maintain an overall lead of 133 points or more to claim the series title.
It was a frantic start to Race 3, with Brown making his way into P5 by the end of opening turn before becoming unstuck on the entry of Turn 3 and spinning the #30 car.
The rear of the car met the tyre wall as a result but Brown managed to fish the car out and move back onto the track in P14.
Morcom stayed clear of the trouble this time around, moving into P12 by the end of the opening lap.
With the chance of securing the championship before reaching the next round, Brown was handed a stroke of luck when title contender O’Keeffe dropped through the field after making a crucial error on lap 4, moving behind both HMO Customer Racing cars.
Morcom managed to move up into P10 in the early stages of the race but was eventually mowed down by Brown as the series leader found his way past on lap 8.
Morcom would only progress one more place up the field to finish inside the top ten again as Brown crossed the line in P8, but would later move into P7 after Heimgartner was penalised post-race for an incident.
Ultimately the points gap to P2 in the overall standings would prove more than enough to crown Brown the inaugural TCR Australia Series champion.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling that I’m the first TCR Australia Series champion. It was nice to wrap up the series this round before heading back to The Bend in a few months time. It wasn’t our best weekend on track but we did what we had to do to claim the title. I can’t thank the HMO Customer Racing Team enough for all their efforts throughout the year and especially Barry Morcom for putting this program together.” – Will Brown
“A pretty tough weekend in the end which started after a difficult qualifying session. Once you’re at the rear of the field, it’s extremely hard to fight for positions up the front for the rest of the weekend so it was disappointing not to get a solid result for any of the races. I’m still in the top 5 for the overall points so hopefully a big weekend at Tailem Bend can put myself back in the mix and into a fighting position for P3 in the standings.” – Nathan Morcom
“It was such a thrill after all the hard work that’s gone into this team for Will to win the series title. As a customer racing team, we’re really proud of the representing Hyundai Motorsport Official here in Australia and we look forward to continuing this relationship well into the future. We’ve still got a job to do at Tailem Bend in November for Nath to push further up the standings and to achieve the overall team constructors championship.” – Barry Morcom
The HMO Customer Racing Team will now prepare for Round 7 of the TCR Australia Series, to be held on 15 – 17 November at The Bend Motorsport Park with all races to be televised LIVE and FREE on SBS HD and you can see the LIVE STREAM here on Velocity Magazine.
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