Photo: TCR Australia

Josh Buchan starts TCR Australia title defence with Sandown pole

TCR Australia’s updated two-stage format qualifying was used for the first time in the 2024 season opener at Sandown Raceway, and it was Josh Buchan who emerged with pole.

The reigning champion set a 1:14.769 in Q2 to put his Hyundai i30 N TCR on pole by 0.073 seconds over the Audi RS 3 LMS TCR-driving Zac Soutar.

Garry Rogers Motorsport duo Ben Bargwanna and Ryan Casha qualified third and fourth, 0.09s and 0.245s off pole respectively in their Peugeot 308TCRs, and the other Q2 contenders were Tony D’Alberto (Honda Wall Racing) and practice pacesetter Aaron Cameron (GRM).

There were eight drivers who failed to progress into the pole shootout from the closely contested first segment of qualifying.

Bargwanna was the driver to beat in Q1, setting a 1:15.052 to pip customer Hyundai driver Buchan by 0.097s. D’Alberto and Casha were also close to the top, 0.114s and 0.136s off the pace in third and fourth and with D’Alberto having initialled topped the timesheet. Cameron made it through in sixth by being 0.23s slower than Bargwanna.

Carl Cox Motorsport’s Clay Richards, who was best of the rest in seventh, was 0.312s off the pace and 0.843s covered the top 12.

Aptly it was Challenge Motorsport driver Iain McDougall was the top driver competing for TCR Challenge honours, which is open to drivers aged 31 or older and “who have not had a top three points finish in any national or international competition” in their car racing career, as he went ninth fastest.

There was drama for two drivers who did not even get on track, with D’Alberto’s teammate Will Harris withdrawing from the weekend due to sore ribs and being replaced at the last minute by John Martin, while GRM’s Jordan Cox had a mechanical issue that prevented him from participating.

The first race starts at 13:15 local time.