Photo: TCR Australia

Jordan Cox fends off Tony D’Alberto to take opening TCR Australia win at Tailem Bend

Schaeffler GRM’s Jordan Cox prevailed in a race-long scrap with Tony D’Alberto to take his second victory of the TCR Australia season in the opening round at Tailem Bend.

The Peugeot driver started second on the grid but made the most of a strong getaway off the line and was able to fend off D’Alberto, whose Honda Civic Type-R TCR was arguably the fastest car throughout the 19-lap affair.

Defending series champion Josh Buchan completed the podium in third in his HMO Customer Racing Hyundai, despite a five-placd grid penalty.

“It was full-on, you had to be right on it for the whole race,” Cox said afterwards.

“We didn’t think we’d have the car for Tony then, but we made it work. The GRM guys put in a big effort between now and the last round, we’ve got the speed and the reliability and we’ve been rewarded with a race win.”

Wall Racing’s D’Alberto started from pole position but bogged down off the start which allowed Cox to gain the early advantage into the first corner as the Tufflift Racing Audi of Zac Soutar stalled from fourth on the grid.

The order remained unchanged for the duration of the race, but D’Alberto kept the pressure on Cox in the lead, despite not being close enough to make a serious move.

In the closing stages, Cox made a slight mistake as he locked his wheels which gave D’Alberto a sniff, but the Peugeot driver held on to claim his second success of the year.

Behind Buchan at the finish, Dylan O’Keefe snatched fourth place with a late-race pass on Aaron Cameron’s Peugeot, with Ryan Casha taking sixth after running as high as third early on.

Phillip Island race winner Brad Harris was seventh ahead of Clay Richards, while Soutar recovered from his poor start to claim ninth as Ben Bargwanna rounded out the top 10.

HMO Customer Racing’s Tom Oliphant provided some late drama in his Hyundai as he dived for 10th position, which would have given him pole for race two. The British driver was the last of the late-brakers on Bargwanna into turn one but left it too late and skated across the gravel trap, finishing 11th.

Race 2 is scheduled to take place on Sunday morning at 11:20 local time (03:20 CEST).