Aaron Cameron credits his race rival Garth Tander with his pace-setting run through the opening day of practice for the carsales TCR Australia Series at Tailem Bend.
The pair have battled on the track but it’s an over-the-shoulder view of Tander’s driving that gave Cameron the speed to become the first driver to lap the South Australian circuit quicker than 1 minute 47 seconds.
He eventually trimmed his time to 1:56.7515 in his Volkswagen Golf GTi, 0.28 seconds quicker than Chris Pither in a Renault Megane RS and 0.38 better than Dylan O’Keefe in an Alfa Romeo Giulietta.
“I watched Garth’s video footage from last time here. He was so much longer on the the throttle,” says Cameron, who is fourth in the inaugural TCR series and aiming for runner-up by the end of the weekend.
“I was having a really big dip. And the car is good.”
Pither says he is finally hooked up with his Megane and over a string of technical troubles at previous events, although his Renault team mate James Moffat lost track time with a holed radiator in the first practice and was only 13th at the end of the day.
“It’s good. I think we’ve made gains,” says Pither.
“It feels more comfortable and I’m more comfortable with it.”
O’Keefe had a power steering problem in his Alfa but it was nothing compared with the factory Peugeot 308, which sat all day in the garage with an electrical problem in the wiring loom, while John Martin missed the second session while the engine was changed in his Honda Civic Type R.
Tony D’Alberto topped the second session for a long time in his Honda, but admits there is more to come.
“It’s not bad. We put some better tyres on it but it was swinging the tail around. We’ll come back tomorrow and see how we go,” says D’Alberto.
Andre Heimgartner, who topped the first practice in his Holden Astra, was only sixth in the session but is not worried.
“I didn’t improve, but we struggled a bit with the quality of the tyres,” he says.
At the back of the field, Matt Simmons had a tough day in his first TCR meeting in a Subaru WRX. The car snapped a driveshaft in opening practice and he spun on his first lap in the second session, but he improved rapidly and the one-time gamer champion was eventually only 0.5 seconds quicker than his mercurial Subaru team mate Bart Mawer.
Qualifying and Race 1 will be held tomorrow, streamed live on the TCR Australia website and live, free and in HD on SBS.