Sunday, Sep 22 02:56pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Drama aplenty as Néstor Girolami takes two in TCR Australia

Néstor Girolami has claimed his second straight win in the carsales TCR Australia Series, avoiding the carnage at Sandown Raceway.

Girolami got a great start to get the holeshot into Turn 1. Garry Rogers Motorsport ace Jordan Cox was quick away too and moved up to third immediately. Will Brown of HMO Customer Racing was slow away and fell to sixth.

Cox sought to catch Girolami into Turn 6 but got super loose on cold tyres and brakes. The rear of his Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce wagged on the way to Dandenong Road, but the young Australian gathered it up.

At the end of Lap 1, it was Girolami who led Cox. John Martin was third with James Moffat fourth and Garth Tander fifth. Will Brown, Russell Ingall, Nathan Morocom, Chris Pither and Bryce Fullwood completed the top 10.

There was drama on Lap 2 when Kelly Racing driver Bryce Fullwood got into the left rear quarter of HMO Customer Racing driver Nathan Morcom, which saw the Hyundai i30 N got bogged in the gravel trap at Dandenong Road.

The chaos continued as Russell Ingall went for a wild ride into Turn 1 on Lap 3. The former Supercars Championship title winner had made up six places but he lost the rear end and nosed first into the Armco barrier.

Moments later the Safety Car came out to give the recovery crew a chance to gather up the stranded Morcom car. Fullwood was duly given a drive-through penalty for the contact and fell to the rear of the field.

A frenetic restart saw Cox get to the rear of Girolami on Lap 8 on approach to Turn 1. The Argentine went defensive to the inside while Cox hung to the right on the traditional racing line, but the young Australian got super loose and nearly spun out on his own. He nailed the throttle and got the car straight again but both Brown and Martin had to go wide onto the asphalt run-off.

Moffat went around the outside of Cox into Turn 2 to take second place. To add insult to injury, Martin hit Cox in the rear and sent the now third-placed car sideways and off the road. Cox managed to return to the track at Turn 3 and still in third.

Lap 9 saw Cox cop another hit, this time from Tander, into Turn 2. The Alfa Romeo bounced across the grass and returned to the track immediately ahead of the Audi RS 3 LMS. Just behind him, Martin clobbered the back of Tander and broke the front right suspension and steering on the Honda Civic Type R.

The Safety Car was brought back out due to the stranded Volkswagen Golf GTI of Alexandra Whitley out of Turn 4.

A mistake by Moffat as they came to the green flag baulked Cox and Tander. Meanwhile, race leader Girolami had streaked away. Again, Cox got loose into Turn 1 and that allowed Tander through and then got a pass done on Moffat at Turn 4 just moments later.

All while that was happening, Andre Heimgartner got himself up to fifth. As the cars came to the final lap there was drama for Cox who got hit by Heimgartner and spun at Turn 4.

Ultimately, Girolami couldn’t be caught. Garth Tander claimed second and James Moffat third. Andre Heimgartner was provisionally fourth after the contact with Cox while Tony D'Alberto was fifth.


Aaron Cameron, Jason Bright, Will Brown, Dylan O'Keeffe and Bryce Fullwood rounded out the top 10.