September 8, 2023 | General

Audi to the Fore on Mixed Friday at Sandown

The 2021-spec Audi RS3’s of Will Brown and Zac Soutar topped the timesheets in today’s two practice sessions for the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series, however both also found trouble on a tricky day at Sandown.

The first session, already a truncated affair following an earlier accident that required lengthy barrier repairs, was further delayed by an early red flag before anyone could set a representative lap time.

Brown, the round winner of the previous TCR Australia event at Queensland Raceway, rose to the top in the wet conditions on a 1m 22.1839s, with the MPC Team LIQUI MOLY entry edging out the Schaeffler GRM Peugeot of Jordan Cox by just over a hundredth of a second.

Wet weather could be a major factor in the weekend’s racing, with potential showers forecast for both Saturday and Sunday throwing an extra variable into what is already an extremely tight championship battle.

HMO Customer Racing teammates Josh Buchan and Bailey Sweeny, currently first and second in points, found themselves in thirteenth and eighth respectively at the end of the wet morning session, both over a second off the pace.

Aaron Cameron, third in points, was a solid fifth in the wet conditions for Team Valvoline GRM, behind GRM stablemate Ben Bargwanna, both of whom took wins last year at Sandown.

The second session was run in dry conditions, and the lap times duly tumbled as Zac Soutar took his Team Soutar Motorsport Audi to the top of the tree on a 1m 15.5542s, just over a tenth clear of reigning champion Tony D’Alberto’s Honda Civic.

It was a good recovery for Soutar, who had been off the road earlier in the day to bring out a red flag, whilst morning pacesetter Brown also brought out a red flag when he lightly tapped the wall in the second session.

D’Alberto, who will drive an upgraded Honda in the final two rounds of the 2023 TCR Australia season, was third in the wet morning session, and looks set to be a consistent presence up the front in a package that swept the 2019 Sandown round in the hands of Argentinian Nestor Girolami.

The Bargwanna and Cox Peugeots were third and fourth in the afternoon session, with the improved Hyundai i30 N of Bailey Sweeny rounding out the top five.

The Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series returns to the track tomorrow morning for qualifying at 11:40am, before the first of three races for the weekend gets underway at 3:35pm.

You can catch all the action live, ad-break free, and on demand on Stan Sport, with Race One also being broadcast on free-to-air television via 9Gem.