Photo: TCR Australia

Bargwanna wins 2024 TCR Australia opener at Sandown

Garry Rogers Motorsport’s Ben Bargwanna won the opening race of the 2024 TCR Australia season at Sandown Raceway.

Bargwanna started third on the grid behind reigning champion Josh Buchan and Zac Soutar. He cleared the latter in no time at all, then took the lead from Buchan by going around the outside of him at turn 11 on lap one. From thereon the top two positions were set, with Bargwanna building a lead of 5.942 seconds over the course of the 21-lap race.

It was the 22-year-old’s second series win, having last triumphed at the same track in 2022 during his sophomore season.

Soutar dropped from third to fifth on lap two, being passed by Aaron Cameron and Tony D’Alberto. Although he was unable to then challenge the pair to try to gain a place back, he did finish fourth as Cameron fell down the order from third on lap 18 of 21 due to an issue with his Peugeot 308TCR.

That meant D’Alberto inherited third place, marking the 18th podium finish of his TCR Australia career.

After mechanical troubles with his Peugeot prevented him from setting a lap in qualifying and consigning him to 15th and last on the grid, Jordan Cox went on a charge. He passed four cars on lap one, and moved into the top 10 on lap four. He picked off Tom Oliphant on lap 11, then Clay Richards on lap 12, and on lap 18 he cleared Ryan Casha and Brad Harris to get into sixth place. Cameron’s misfortune meant he finished the race in fifth, and only four seconds behind D’Alberto.

Harris topped the TCR Challenge classification in sixth, and John Martin fought past Oliphant to finish 10th after his last-minute call-up to replace Will Harris at Honda Wall Racing after practice.

That means he starts on reversed-grid pole in Race 2, which takes place at 14:05 local time on Sunday.