MEDIA RELEASE/TCR Australia – Photo: supplied
Andre Heimgartner and Aaron Cameron have topped the two carsales TCR Australia Series at The Bend Motorsport Park in Tailem Bend, South Australia today.
Heimgartner took his Holden Astra to the fastest lap in Practice 1, dipping under the record mark set during the category’s first visit to the circuit back in July.
The Kelly Racing driver Heimgartner lapped his Astra in 1m57.3180s seconds to edge out Tony D’Alberto in a Honda Civic Type R.
In the second session, Volkswagen young star Aaron Cameron went faster again with a 1m56.7515s in his Volkswagen Golf GTi, 0.28 seconds quicker than Chris Pither in a Renault Megane RS and 0.38 better than Dylan O’Keefe in an Alfa Romeo Giulietta.
Andre Heimgartner set the standard for the carsales TCR Australia series with the quickest lap in opening practice at Tailem Bend.
The series return to the South Australian circuit has already seen the quickest cars dipping under the record mark set in early July, with Heimgartner lapping his Holden Astra in 1 minute 57.3180 seconds to edge out Tony D’Alberto in a Honda Civic Type R.
“It’s a good start. We’re still tuning the car,” says Heimgartner.
“There is definitely more in it, so we have to extract it.”
D’Alberto was more than 30 seconds ahead of the pack for much of the first session, until his time was scrubbed for a short-cut.
“I was testing the braking zone and got in a bit hot. So I decided to cut across,” laughs D’Alberto.
“It was still a good start but I’ve got some work to do. And that session was about getting my head back around the TCR car.”
Dylan O’Keefe clocked the third-quickest time in his Alfa Romeo but others in the 21-car field were in trouble.
The highly-anticipated Peugeot 308 factory racer didn’t turn a wheel after the team discovered a fault in the car’s wiring loom. The French engineers are working on the gremlin for the race weekend.
Tim Brook, making the first TCR Australia start with a a Cupra from Spain, also had his time cut short and could only manage 12th.
“We only did five laps. There is a fuel pressure issue,” says Brooke.
“It’s coming up with a warning on the dashboard. We didn’t want to risk it.”
James Moffat also stopped early with a holed radiator in his Renault Megane RS, while Will Brown was the surprise of the session when the champion could only manage 10th in his Hyundai i30 N.
“I don’t know what’s wrong, to be honest,” says Brown.
“We’re a fair way off. And I’ve been off the road a few times.
“We think it might be something with the tyres. There is no point in making changes to the set-up when we’re 1.4 seconds off the pace, because it must be something big.”
Aaron Cameron credits his race rival Garth Tander with his pace-setting run through the opening day of practice for the carsales TCR Australia Series at Tailem Bend.
The pair have battled on the track but it’s an over-the-shoulder view of Tander’s driving that gave Cameron the speed to become the first driver to lap the South Australian circuit quicker than 1 minute 47 seconds.
He eventually trimmed his time to 1:56.7515 in his Volkswagen Golf GTi, 0.28 seconds quicker than Chris Pither in a Renault Megane RS and 0.38 better than Dylan O’Keefe in an Alfa Romeo Giulietta.
“I watched Garth’s video footage from last time here. He was so much longer on the the throttle,” says Cameron, who is fourth in the inaugural TCR series and aiming for runner-up by the end of the weekend.
“I was having a really big dip. And the car is good.”
Pither says he is finally hooked up with his Megane and over a string of technical troubles at previous events, although his Renault team mate James Moffat lost track time with a holed radiator in the first practice and was only 13th at the end of the day.
“It’s good. I think we’ve made gains,” says Pither.
“It feels more comfortable and I’m more comfortable with it.”
O’Keefe had a power steering problem in his Alfa but it was nothing compared with the factory Peugeot 308, which sat all day in the garage with an electrical problem in the wiring loom, while John Martin missed the second session while the engine was changed in his Honda Civic Type R.
Tony D’Alberto topped the second session for a long time in his Honda, but admits there is more to come.
“It’s not bad. We put some better tyres on it but it was swinging the tail around. We’ll come back tomorrow and see how we go,” says D’Alberto.
Andre Heimgartner, who topped the first practice in his Holden Astra, was only sixth in the session but is not worried.
“I didn’t improve, but we struggled a bit with the quality of the tyres,” he says.
At the back of the field, Matt Simmons had a tough day in his first TCR meeting in a Subaru WRX. The car snapped a driveshaft in opening practice and he spun on his first lap in the second session, but he improved rapidly and the one-time gamer champion was eventually only 0.5 seconds quicker than his mercurial Subaru team mate Bart Mawer.
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