Photo: TCR Australia

Zac Soutar claims final TCR Australia win of the weekend at Tailem Bend

Zac Soutar fended off a fierce late attack from defending TCR Australia Series champion Josh Buchan to claim his second win of the Tailem Bend weekend and extend his points advantage.

The Tufflift Racing Audi driver started on the outside of the front row and ran behind the Peugeot of Jordan Cox either side of an early safety car intervention but inherited the lead following a wild moment for Cox at the final corner.

Soutar then kept his nose in front from the restart but came under threat from Buchan entering the closing stages, with the Hyundai Elantra N TCR almost getting ahead on the final lap.

Buchan had to settle for second place but was rewarded with the round win as Soutar made it two wins out of three in Victoria.

“I didn’t think today could have happened after the clutch problem we had in race one,” said Soutar post-race. “And I just pushed the clutch again after the race and it has failed again, but I’m just going to celebrate this win tonight!”

An off-track excursion for Glenn Nirwan brought the safety car out early on, with Cox leading Soutar as Buchan dropped to third after a poor start.

At the restart, Buchan lost out to Ryan Casha at turn one as Tom Oliphant was forced out of the race with apparent mechanical woes in the second HMO Customer Racing Hyundai.

Cox held onto his lead at the restart from Soutar but lost the rear of his Peugeot 308TCR at the final corner and very nearly ended his race in the gravel trap, but for a miraculous piece of car control.

The Schaeffler GRM driver kept his foot to the floor in the front-wheel-drive car and avoided the gravel by a matter of centimetres, but Soutar was in the clear and Cox toiled on damaged tyres for the rest of the race, eventually finishing seventh.

Soutar built up a two-second lead over Casha who briefly closed in on the leading Audi before dropping behind a recovering Buchan, who then kept up his pursuit in the second half of the race.

The reigning champion was the quicker driver and set a number of fastest laps as he reduced the deficit to just under three-tenths of a second entering the final lap.

Soutar placed his car well at the apex of the first corner, leaving Buchan previous few opportunities to make a way past. The Hyundai driver tried sticking his nose up the inside of Soutar with just a few corners left, but it was never realistically possible and he settled for second at the finish.

This left Soutar clear to take his second win of the weekend and consolidate his points lead, as Casha completed the podium in third.

Brad Harris was fourth in his Wall Racing Honda Civic Type-R, with the Lynk & Co of Dylan O’Keefe and Tony D’Alberto’s Honda in close company behind.

Cox was seventh, easily clear of Clay Richards’ Carl Cox Motorsport Cupra, while Ben Bargwanna – who had been embroiled in a frenetic battle with Richards for much of the race, was ninth. Will Harris rounded out the top 10 finishers.

The next round of the 2024 TCR Australia Series is scheduled to take place on the weekend of 12-14 July at Queensland Raceway.