Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Viktor Andersson wins the TCR UK season opener at Brands Hatch

Pro Alloys Racing’s Viktor Andersson won the opening race of the TCR UK season on Brands Hatch’s Indy layout.

It made for a successful debut on UK soil for the Lynk & Co 03 TCR, which has already been raced with success in Europe and will be driven by Ryan Bensley for the rest of the season as Andersson is making a cameo to help the team learn the car.

JH Racing’s Callum Newsham started the 25-lap race from pole, but was jumped by fellow front row starter Andersson off the line and then reigning champion Carl Boardley also got between them approaching Paddoch Hill Bend. Contact occurred and Andersson led into the opening corner, while Boardley went around the outside of Newsham but then was demoted back to third by him at Druids.

Andersson ended lap one with a lead of 0.2 seconds, and Area Motorsport’s Luke Sargeant was sixth before a half-spin sent him off at Paddock Hill Bend and down to 10th place. From then on he was in a battling mood as he tried to recover ground.

The gap bewtween the top two had grown to 0.565s by lap four, but soon it was being reduced by Newsham who attacked Andersson at Graham Hill Bend on lap seven. A lap later he tried going down the inside at Paddock Hill Bend and Druids, then the outside at Graham Hill Bend, but Andersson held him off. It brought Boardley back into play, along with Adam Shepherd who had set a new championship lap record.

Boardley pounced the next lap, first attempting to go around the outside of Newsham at Paddock Hill Bend and then passing him on the inside at Druids. His sights were now set on the leader, and while he spent several laps within 0.4s of him there were no attacking manoeuvres.

It started to look more comfortable for Andersson by lap 15 as he moved half a second clear again, but lapped cars were now coming into play and going into lap 18 he was only 0.142s ahead. Boardley found himself backed into Newsham, who failed to get by at Druids before contact at Graham Hill Bend and Clark Curve. That freed Andersson up front and enabled Shepherd to snatch third, and it became a settled lead group until lapping cars hampered Andersson on the penultimate lap.

Going into Druids for the last time there was contact as Shepherd went into the back of Boardley and he went into the rear of Andersson at Druids, but it proved inconsequential and Andersson won by 0.269s. Shepherd was a further 0.377s behind, and Newsham was 0.833s behind the winner in fourth.

Sargeant passed Rick Kerry for ninth at Graham Hill Bend on lap three but then went off at Clark Curve and dropped to 14th. His recovery after tht brought him up to 11th by lap six and ninth by lap nine. He made one more overtake to finish a lonely eighth.

Teams now have almost a day to rest, with Race 2 scheduled to start at 14:00 local time (15:00 CEST) on Sunday.