Touring car racing has been a staple in world motorsport for decades and has often evolved or birthed into many popular categories around the globe. In Australia, the ATCC (Aus Touring Car Championship) grew into the V8 Supercars and in Europe, DTM evolved into what it is now, a premier GT3 class. Over time, drivers and teams have turned champions, and cars have become legends among enthusiasts.
There is one problem though. The motorsport categories that have evolved from the Touring car recipe have their grids filled with purpose-built race cars. Yes, their body shapes are based off road cars, but that’s where the similarities end. The technology of these GT3 turned championships are for better or worse, unlike anything us fans will ever get to experience.
That’s where the modern TCR formula comes in. They are tightly based off production vehicles, with engines, transmission, suspension and body panels all being retained. With weight reduction, added aero and upgraded brakes, these cars are still quite similarly and thus relatable to the cars spectators will drive to the track. To keep competition tight between different vehicles and manufacturers, cars a subject to Balance of Performance (BoP) adjustments such as added weight ballasts.
And let me tell you that the competition during Round 2 of the Australian TCR championship was exactly that… tight!
Jay Hansen, winner of the first race of the season started the weekend off quickest in Practice 1, setting a 1:36.2, four tenths faster than Dylan O’Keefe and five tenths faster than V8 Supercar Ace Michael Caruso.
Grassroots and FWD legend Jordan Cox would just pip Fabian Coulthard in second practice by just two hundredths of a second, with fellow Peugeot driver of Aaron Cameron and Josh Buchan in the Hyundai i30N just 0.2 of a second slower.
Qualifying would be on the Saturday. Two back-to-back high intensity sessions to set the grid for Race 1.
Jay Hansen would storm to pole position with the fastest lap of the weekend for the TCR’s. Michael Caruso wasn’t far behind in the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Dylan O’Keefe and Liam McAdam would start behind them on the second row.
Caruso would grab the lead into Turn 1, whilst Jordan Cox had a great run around the outside making it three wide. Hansen would grab the lead back on the front straight, and whilst attempting an overtake, the other Audi of Liam McAdam would punt Caruso off the track. His great qualifying would lead to nothing as he would be given a drive through penalty.
Despite a quick Jordan Cox, Jay Hansen would go onto win the first race of the weekend, like he did in Symmons Plains back in round one, with Dylan O’Keefe finishing third.
Race 2 would be a reverse grid, with Ben Bargwanna and Michael Clemente on the front row. Championship leader Zac Soutar would have his consistent run of race comes to an end after being punted off track at Lukey Heights, whilst fellow Honda Civic driver Tony D’Alberto would battle Jordan Cox for second.
All eyes however were on Fabian Coulthard, who said prior to the race, that he’d be happy with one podium this year. Coulthard would charge from seventh on the grid and into the lead with a commanding victory over Ben Bargwanna and Tony D’Alberto.
Fabian Coulthard would start on pole for the final race of the weekend, with Jay Hansen alongside. Coulthard, Cox and Hansen would go three wide into Turn 1, but it wouldn’t end well as Cox was clipped by Coulthard, sending him into the side of Hansen, dropping the two of them down the order. That wouldn’t be the last time they made contact either. Hansen and Cox would come together on the front straight again, this time with Hansen cutting a tyre.
The Safety Car would be brought out after a wheel parted ways from the Renault Megane of Kody Garland. This would bunch up the field, allowing Will Brown to charge through, picking off each car in his way.
Despite a mammoth amount of pressure from Brown, Coulthard would hold him off to grab his second win of the weekend. Not bad for someone who just wanted a podium! Ben Bargwanna would also nab his second podium in a row, finishing third.
With Phillip Island done and dusted, the TCR series heads to Bathurst, with the consistent Tony D’Alberto leading the championship by only two point ahead of Jordan Cox, with Zac Soutar and Fabian Coulthard not far behind.