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RACE TWO: WILD RACE ENDS WITH ANOTHER WIN FOR ALFA AND O’KEEFFE
Will Brown threw away a potential win in the second of three carsales TCR Australia Series contests at Phillip Island, leaving the way clear for Dylan O’Keefe to romp to a six-second victory.
O’Keefe won the first race on Saturday afternoon and only lost the top spot briefly to Brown in Race 2, capitalising on the high-speed strength of his Alfa Romeo Giulietta as the field was decimated by contact and a pair of punctures for the Honda Civic Type Rs of Tony D’Alberto and John Martin.
The final finishing order was O’Keefe ahead of Brown and youngster Hamish Ribaritis in an Audi RS3.
“He was just quicker than me. Once he broke the tow I was done,” Brown reported after the finish.
“I was locking brakes all over the place. But we’ll put a new set-up on the car and see how we go.”
The incident-packed race was only two corners old when James Moffat triggered a multi-car pile-up when he ran wide in his Renault Megane.
Andre Heimgartner and Garth Tander were knocked out of contention, and Tander out of the race with major front-end damage to his Audi RS3, as they took avoiding action from the runaway Renault.
“I just buggered it up. That’s racing,” Moffat said.
As O’Keefe motored away, there was action back through the pack with everyone from Nathan Morcom in his Hyundai to Alex Rullo, who advanced to fifth in his Holden Astra.
But Honda a twins, Martin and D’Alberto, lost any chance of a top-five slot with nearly-identical right-front punctures.
“The tyre went a Turn 2 with no warning. Just bang,” D’Alberto said.
“I didn’t get that far. Mine went in One. I thought to myself ‘Oh, wow, this will be big’. I stopped over near Turn 3,” said Martin.
The final race of the TCR weekend will see racing resume with the grid order decided by the finishing positions in Race 2.
CARNAGE REIGNS AS WILL BROWN SCORES RACE 3 VICTORY
Will Brown drove through a weekend of carnage to extend his lead in the carsales TCR Australia Series at Phillip Island with his Hyundai i30 N.
Forced to settle for second in the first two starts, behind the rampaging Alfa Romeo Giulietta of Dylan O’Keefe, Brown was able to pick up the pieces when his rival crashed out of the final 30-minute heat.
A win and two seconds trumped the rest of the TCR hopefuls, as Garth Tander was the guest star in an Audi RS3 that looked like a runaway patient from an emergency ward by the end of the weekend.
Brown finished ahead of his Hyundai team mate Nathan Morcom in the final heat, as Aaron Cameron took the final podium place in a Volkswagen Golf.
The two-car Honda team took the biggest hits during back-to-back heats on Sunday, first with a pair of punctures and then when the cars of John Martin and Tony D’Alberto were both involved in a first-corner tangle that sent Martin’s Civic Type R to the panelbeaters for major back-end repairs after he torpedoed O’Keefe’s stranded Alfa.
“I was just trying to mind my own business and I got punted. There is too much wild stuff going on,” Martin said.
Brown was happy to capitalise on a sensibly solid approach to the weekend, although he threw away a potential win in Heat 2 when he slid out of a battle with O’Keefe thanks to brake troubles.
“We tuned it up and had a crack for the last one. It was a lot of fun,” Brown said.
“I don’t know how it happened, but I was locking brakes all over the place in Race 2. Somehow the brake adjustment went way out.”
“But it’s been a good weekend.”
The competition and carnage mixed the results throughout the second meeting of the inaugural TCR championship, with action throughout the field including a spin for James Moffat after an early podium, heavy crash damage for both Garth and Leanne Tander in their twin Audis, and driveline troubles that effectively sidelined Jason Bright’s Volkswagen Golf.
Among the youngsters in the series, Hamish Ribarits showed solid improvement and scored his first podium with an Audi RS3, Alex Rullo also ran solidly in his Holden Astra, and Cameron used his head to benefit from the mistakes of others.
They have plenty of pressure from Andre Heimgartner, who out-performed his Subaru WRX for most of the weekend, and Chris Pither, who admitted he is still coming to grips with his Renault Megane.
And Garth Tander was the entertainer, and needs to continue in the series, as he was in the wars all weekend. It started with a high-speed spin during Friday practice and continued right through to the final lap in an Audi that was battle scarred on every panel.
“We weren’t going to be racing with five minutes before the start. But we got out there. And then I had what I reckon must have been a world-record slide in Turn 2,” he said.
But Leanne Tander put it best, after a torrid introduction to TCR racing.
“No matter where you are, there is always someone to race with,” she said.
Round 3 of the carsales TCR Australia Series will be held at The Bend Motorsport Park in South Australia.
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