Three-Way Title Fight to Decide TCR Australia Series in Bathurst
The 2023 Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series is set to come down to a three-way fight for the championship at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst International.
After a season full of close racing and incredible drama, HMO Customer Racing teammates Bailey Sweeny and Josh Buchan, along with Team Valvoline GRM’s Aaron Cameron have established themselves as the three title combatants.
Though six drivers are mathematically in contention Tony D’Alberto (-96), Jordan Cox (-110), and Lachlan Mineeff (-137) will all need luck to go their way in order to challenge for the championship with 153 points on offer this weekend.
Peugeot driver Cameron has been the leading light for the French manufacturer in 2023, taking victory in the second race at Race Tasmania, and a further six podiums across the season, including five runner-up finishes.
Cameron was one of the standout TCR Australia runners at the first TCR World Tour event in Sydney, and would arguably be even closer to the leading Hyundai’s had he not made contact with World Tour runner Frederic Vervisch in the third Sydney race.
At 49 points off the championship lead, Cameron will be hoping that the lead Hyundai duo both struggle, however Cameron heads into the Bathurst International with an imposing TCR record on the mountain.
Out of a total eleven races held at Bathurst since 2021, Cameron has scored a podium in eight of them – the most of any TCR Australia competitor, with his three victories also equal to Chaz Mostert at the top of the Bathurst TCR winners list.
Peugeot are also a force to be reckoned with at Bathurst, with three victories to go with thirteen podiums, five more than second-placed manufacturer Hyundai.
Whilst Garry Rogers Motorsport will be hopeful of a big comeback, the 2023 TCR Australia champion will likely come from HMO Customer Racing’s stable of Hyundai’s.
Sydneysider Josh Buchan has enjoyed a successful first full campaign in the newer-spec Hyundai i30 Sedan N, scoring two wins and a further four podiums so far this season.
Though Buchan hasn’t always had the pace in qualifying, the Hyundai has been a reliable package in race trim, with the HMO Customer Racing entry making it’s way to the front of the pack more often than not.
However, it’s those rare occasions where Buchan hasn’t been able to make his way to the front that have left him 29 points off his teammate Sweeny heading into the final round.
Buchan is yet to win at Mt Panorama though he has scored three podiums, the last of which was a third place in the final race of the 2022 season.
Last year’s Bathurst International was also Buchan’s first weekend in the newer Hyundai i30 Sedan N, meaning Buchan will not have to learn the car on the run as he has done at each event this season.
However, the man in the box seat to claim his first Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series title is Bailey Sweeny, who has enjoyed a breakout campaign in the older Hyundai i30N.
Sweeny got his 2023 campaign off to the best possible start with two wins at Race Tasmania, and has claimed a further three wins this season along with two podiums.
The 20-year-old from Batemans Bay on the NSW South Coast has been in control of the championship for all but two races, when teammate Buchan briefly wrestled the lead off him at the Queensland Raceway round.
Sweeny’s qualifying performances have been crucial in his title charge, having not qualified any lower than fourth all season, including a pole position at Sandown.
Sweeny also comes into the season’s final round with an impressive Bathurst record, with two wins to his name (one in each of the two Bathurst rounds in 2022), and two further podiums.
With all three drivers boasting impressive Bathurst records, alongside their standout performances in 2023, this year’s TCR Australia season is once again set to go down to the wire.
On-track action for the combined Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series and Kumho TCR World Tour field begins tomorrow, with three races set to round out the season at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst International.
You can catch Saturday and Sunday’s action live, ad break free, and on demand on Stan Sport.