Nestor Girolami was unflappable and unbeatable as the Argentinian import claimed his first carsales TCR Australia Series win at Sandown Park.
The factory Honda driver started from pole position on a slimy track, as most drivers left the grid with slick front tyres and wets on the back, and avoided the early bumping to build an unbeatable lead of more than two seconds.
Will Brown battled up to second with his Hyundai i30N, overtaking the second Honda of John Martin, but ran out of time and had to settle for the runner-up spot ahead of youngster Jordan Cox who took his first podium with an Alfa Romeo.
Even though he romped to victory, Girolami said conditions were tough and he could never relax.
“It wasn’t easy. I controlled the pace until Will Brown got to P2, then I had to try 100 per cent, or maybe 90, to stay ahead,” he says.
“I knew he was quicker. But it was ok.”
Brown was forced to consider his championship lead as he battled for position, but eventually the youngster gave in to temptation.
“I had the pace but took too long to get to second,” Brown says.
“I had a good battle at the start. I was thinking about the championship but then I decided to go for it. I just couldn’t catch the fella.”
For Cox, his first podium could be the first of many.
“It’s eyes forward from here,” he says.
Andre Heimgartner was the biggest casualty of the race, as a steering arm snapped on his Holden Astra while he was in the leading battle pack.
“It started to wobble all over the place, then it just snapped. Now we have to look to get something back from tomorrow,” he says.
The TCR series resumes with back-to-back sprints at Sandown tomorrow.
Results: TCR Australia Race 1, Sandown
|1||38||Nestor Girolami (ARG)||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R||20||26:00.7271|
|2||30||William Brown (Qld)||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai i30N||20||26:02.9497|
|3||7||Jordan Cox (NSW)||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Alfa Romeo Giulietta||20||26:10.9174|
|4||3||Garth Tander (Vic)||Melbourne Performance Centre||Audi RS 3||20||26:12.5411|
|5||24||John Martin (NSW)||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R||20||26:15.6835|
|6||97||Liam McAdam (Qld)||Melbourne Performance Centre||Audi RS 3||20||26:15.9660|
|7||34||James Moffat (Vic)||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Renault Megane RS||20||26:16.2825|
|8||9||Dylan O’Keeffe (Vic)||Ashley Seward Motorsport||Alfa Romeo Giulietta||20||26:20.4079|
|9||2||Aaron Cameron (Vic)||Melbourne Performance Centre||Volkswagen Golf GTI||20||26:21.3056|
|10||11||Nathan Morcom (NSW)||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai i30N||20||26:36.7466|
|11||33||Chris Pither (NZ)||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Renault Megane RS||20||26:38.1914|
|12||100||Russell Ingall (Qld)||Melbourne Performance Centre||Audi RS 3||20||27:00.7018|
|13||62||Bryce Fullwood (NT)||Kelly Racing||Holden Astra||20||27:09.5344|
|14||35||Alexandra Whitley (Qld)||Melbourne Performance Centre||Volkswagon Golf GTI||20||27:15.5164|
|15||50||Tony D’Alberto (Vic)||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R||20||27:19.4446|
|DNF||8||Jason Bright (Vic)||Taskforce/Melb Performance Cnt||Volkswagon Golf GTI||14||18:38.9701|
|DNF||777||Andre Heimgartner (NZ)||Kelly Racing||Holden Astra||4||5:40.7907|