Vernay scores emphatic victory on TCR Australia debut; Kiwi Michels 12th

Jean-Karl Vernay stormed to a debut victory for Audi in race one of TCR Australia’s first visit to Queensland Raceway, the Melbourne Performance Centre driver dominated the race to lead Ashley Seward Motorsport’s Dylan O’Keeffe by nearly eight seconds at the flag.

As Vernay effortlessly controlled the race there was drama between championship contenders Wall Racing’s John Martin and points leader HMO Customer Racing driver Will Brown.

Away from the line and Vernay held his lead into the first corner, as Brown, Martin and O’Keeffe looked to better each other through the opening corners.

At Turn 6 Brown looked for a way past Martin, and the two cars made contact sending the championship leader off the track.

A lap later Martin suffered a puncture as a result of the damage, and had to limp back to the pit lane as the safety car was called out with tyre debris littering the track.

Brown also hit pitlane but only after making a considerable shortcut between Turns 3 and 6, for which the stewards handed him a drive through penalty.

At the restart Vernay was able to drop Wall Racing’s Tony D’Alberto who had moved up from fifth, and after five laps the Frenchman had a lead of over two seconds.

D’Alberto shortly came under fire from O’Keeffe who was keen to further reduce the points deficit to Brown by taking one step up on the podium.

The battle reached boiling point as the second Melbourne Performance Centre Audi of Russell Ingall closed onto the back of O’Keeffe, and D’Alberto ran wide at Turn One with only three laps to go.

Vernay didn’t cruise to the flag, instead he opened the gap even more in the second half of the race to hold an unprecedented advantage at the end of the 21 laps.

O’Keeffe managed to keep Ingall at bay to reduce the gap to Brown, whilst D’Alberto crossed the line in fourth.

Garry Rogers Motorsport driver Jordan Cox crossed the line fifth, meaning two Alfa Romeo’s finished in the first five spots.

Aaron Cameron pulled off the drive of the race as the Melbourne Performance Centre driver was stuck at the end of the pitlane pre-race as an onboard fire extinguisher looked to have triggered. The 19 year old then proceeded to battle his way through to sixth, making several unrelenting overtakes.

HMO Customer Racing’s Nathan Morcom finished in seventh and the highest placed Hyundai i30N, ahead of Kelly Racing’s Alex Rullo in the highest placed Holden Astra.

James Moffat came home in ninth, the Gary Rogers Motorsport driver held off a charging Jason Bright who took his Team Tradie Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR from 15th on the grid into the top 10.

After their opening lap drama Brown and Martin crossed the line a lap down, and Kelly Racing’s Andre Heimgartner who looked likely to score a promising result in his first race after switching from Subaru to Holden retired from the race with only four laps to go with an unknown mechanical issue.

RESULTS, RACE 1

PosNumDriverTeamCarLapsTime
   4Jean-Karl Vernay (FRA) Melbourne Performance Centre  Audi RS 3           2127:20.4629
   9Dylan O’Keeffe (Vic)   Ashley Seward Motorsport      Alfa Romeo Giulietta2127:28.4149
 100Russell Ingall (Qld)   Melbourne Performance Centre  Audi RS 3           2127:29.0341
  50Tony D’Alberto (Vic)   Wall Racing                   Honda Civic Type R  2127:32.8063
   7Jordan Cox (NSW)       Garry Rogers Motorsport       Alfa Romeo Giulietta2127:33.7588
   2Aaron Cameron (Vic)    Melbourne Performance Centre  Volkswagen Golf GTI 2127:34.2892
  11Nathan Morcom (NSW)    HMO Customer Racing           Hyundai i30N        2127:35.3705
  62Alex Rullo (WA)        Kelly Racing                  Holden Astra        2127:41.8156
  34James Moffat (Vic)     Garry Rogers Motorsport       Renault Megane RS   2127:44.8122
10   8Jason Bright (Vic)     Taskforce / Alliance AutosportVolkswagon Golf GTI 2127:47.7425
11  35Alexandra Whitley (Qld)Alliance Autosport            Volkswagon Golf GTI 2127:50.1770
12  38Jordan Michels (NZ)    Wall Racing                   Honda Civic Type R  2127:54.4866
13   3Leanne Tander (Vic)    Melbourne Performance Centre  Audi RS 3           2127:57.4687
14   6Molly Taylor (NSW)     Kelly Racing                  Subaru WRX STi      2128:10.0175
15  24John Martin (NSW)      Wall Racing                   Honda Civic Type R  2027:53.2340
16  30William Brown (Qld)    HMO Customer Racing           Hyundai i30N        2028:26.4431
DNF777Andre Heimgartner (NZ) Kelly Racing                  Holden Astra        1621:16.1908

Vernay scores emphatic victory on TCR Australia debut; Kiwi Michels 12th

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