All round performance leaves Tony D’Alberto the title leader
Could this be Tony D’Alberto’s year?
The factory Honda Australia driver is in his best position yet to take his maiden Supercheap Auto TCR Australia title, but not just because he’s leading the standings at the halfway stage.
D’Alberto is enjoying the best start to a TCR Australia campaign since the inaugural season in 2019 where he ended the season as runner up to Will Brown.
Last year’s campaign didn’t get off to the best start at Symmons Plains as the Honda package struggled on the Apple Isle, as it was a position D’Alberto was unable to recover from, which was emphasised by missing the final round.
Aiming to rebound in 2022, D’Alberto returned to Symmons Plains for AWC Race Tasmania where Honda proved a very competitive proposition compared to the previous year.
D’Alberto left the opening round with two further podiums added to his statistics and increased confidence surrounding his Wall Racing Honda Civic Type R TCR as Phillip Island was next on the schedule, a strong circuit for the Japanese hot hatch.
Seventh, third and fifth not only continued D’Alberto’s consistent run to start the season, but also gave him the series lead as rivals including HMO Customer Racing, Garry Rogers Motorsport’s fleet of Peugeots, plus Jay Hanson’s latest generation Audi all encountered problems.
A return to the Mountain followed where the Hondas again struggled last year and although unlike Symmons Plains the Civic Type R TCR form wasn’t completely turned around, D’Alberto got the most out of the Easter weekend.
Although not a standout weekend for D’Alberto, it remained consistent and he left with an extended series lead.
Reaching the halfway stage at Sydney Motorsport Park, it’s the circuit where Supercheap Auto TCR Australia debuted in 2019 and D’Alberto made history by securing the first pole position.
Since then, HMO Customer Racing has enjoyed a stranglehold on its home track, winning four of six races in the category’s previous two trips.
Hyundai was once again the marque to beat at Sydney Motorsport Park, but D’Alberto and the Honda proved competitive finishing eighth, then fourth before a touch with Brad Shiels sent him wide at Turn 5 dropped him to the back.
D’Alberto did climb back to 14th, but it ended his steady run and allowed Schaeffler GRM Peugeot’s Dylan O’Keeffe to close to within 24-points entering the final three rounds.
One advantage D’Alberto has is he is one of few drivers on grid with TCR experience at both Queensland Raceway and Sandown.
Back in 2019, the D’Alberto scored a podium at each round and international ace Nestor Girolami completed a clean-sweep at Sandown.
O’Keeffe is the only driver to match D’Alberto’s consistency this season and he has closed in considerably after strong results in the last two rounds.
It is sure to be a close battle for the third Supercheap Auto TCR Australia title until the end.
Queensland Raceway hosts the next round of the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series and SpeedSeries on August 5-7.