Ehrlacher Wins, Buchan Champion in Dramatic Finale
HMO Customer Racing’s Josh Buchan has been crowned the 2023 Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series champion after a dramatic finale at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst International.
Twelfth outright and fifth in TCR Australia was good enough for Buchan to secure his maiden championship as Kumho TCR World Tour competitor Yann Ehrlacher claimed victory for Cyan Racing Lynk & Co.
The Frenchman made the best jump off the front row to head teammate Santiago Urrutia into Hell Corner, with Thed Bjork completing what was a top three sweep for the Swedish team.
Further back in the field, Aaron Cameron charged to the head of the TCR Australia pack in his attempt to steal the title from Buchan, diving down the inside of outgoing champion Tony D’Alberto on the opening lap at Forrests Elbow.
The pair would almost come to blows on the entry to The Chase when there was slight contact, however Cameron would go too deep into the braking zone and run wide into the grass, allowing D’Alberto back into the TCR Australia lead.
D’Alberto would then close the gap on the lead quartet of Ehrlacher, Urrutia, Bjork, and Rob Huff, before Urrutia would clout the wall at Reid Park on lap five, putting the Uruguayan out on the spot.
The fight for second in the TCR Australia rankings also intensified, as a hard-charging Bailey Sweeny – recovering from his mechanical gremlins in Race Two – caught and passed Cameron for second just prior to the safety car being called on lap eight.
Jordan Cox’s season would come to a premature end as an engine failure forced him to pull the Schaeffler GRM Peugeot off to the side of the road just before pit entry.
Cameron would then suffer a similar fate the next lap, as overheating forced the Team Valvoline GRM entry to pull over at pit exit whilst under safety car conditions, ultimately robbing the Victorian of a top three finish in the championship.
Cameron wouldn’t be the only driver to find trouble under safety car, as Mikel Azcona’s tough weekend was compounded by a suspected front right puncture that put the BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse entry into the wall at Forrests Elbow on the penultimate lap.
Azcona’s incident would force the race to finish under safety car conditions, with Ehrlacher leading teammate Bjork and Huff’s Audi Sport Comtoyou entry in a World Tour sweep of the outright podium.
D’Alberto was first of the Australians home, pinching third in the championship in the process, ahead of Sweeny in eighth outright and Zac Soutar in ninth, finishing his difficult season on a high in the Team Soutar Motorsport Audi.