Wall Racing Honda driver Tony D’Alberto has set the pace in the official test and media day for the car sales TCR Australia Series at Winton Raceway.
D’Alberto, driving the #50 Honda Civic Type R TCR topped the timesheet with a 1:24.1842s, just 0.01s ahead of the Hyundai i30 N of Nathan Morcom.
Morcom was less than a tenth of a second ahead of his team-mate and reigning series champion Will Brown.
Rounding out the top 10 was Jordan Cox (GRM Alfa Romeo), John Martin (Wall Racing Honda), Aaron Cameron (GRM Peugeot), privateer rookie Zac Soutar (Honda), Dylan O’Keeffe (GRM Renault), Jay Hansen (ASM Alfa Romeo) and veteran touring car racer Jason Bargwanna (GRM Peugeot).
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The top 10 were covered by less than half a second, indicating that the series will once again be an even and tight affair.
Fifteen TCR cars took to the circuit for official practice, with other vehicles at the track for media commitments.
The test was also the first major event where the new kerning at Winton’s third and fourth turns were used. All drivers were complimentary of the changes, stating that the speed and safety has improved.
The opening event of the Australian TCR calendar will be the carsales TCR Asia Pacific Cup at Albert Park, supporting the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix on March 12-15.
The first round of the carsales TCR Australia Series will be at Sydney Motorsport Park on March 27-19.
#50 Honda Civic Type-R TCR
“We had a really good day. We got through quite a few things we wanted to try,” said D’Alberto.
“The car was much better than when we raced here last year. We’ve made a bit of an improvement with the set up and our philosophy. With the set up, it was nice to be the quickest today. It does mean a lot. Obviously we’re happy about it, but we know there’s a huge amount of work to do.
“Everybody is impressed with the changes they’ve made to Turns 3 and 4. It has opened up that corner and its given the drivers a little bit more lee way to explore a little bit more. Before in the exit at three, if you dropped a wheel, you’re just toast. It gives you that chance to explore a little bit more, use a bit more road and if you don’t quite get it right, you’re not going to be in the fence. I really like those changes they’ve made. It makes turn four allow the car to flow.”
#11 Hyundai i30 N TCR
“I definitely ended the season really well last year and we want to come out punching this year,” said Morcom.
“My focus is to just improve my driving and really got my head around these cars. I’ve been working on it in the off season.
“We’ve done a few tweaks and refined some areas and we’re definitely showing some gains already. We’re looking really strong for the year. “
“I reckon the new kerbing is awesome. The track is safer, it is faster but the most important is that its safer to stay off the walls, and those sausage curves just damage those cars.”
#17 Peugeot 308 TCR
“We got a a couple laps at Sandown in the Peugeot a few weeks ago, but it rained, so put it in the truck and came home,” said Bargwanna.
“Today, we could feel the tyre and get some good clean laps. I was able to start to explore where the grip is and it started to bring back memories of the old Mini days when I raced them around.
“I was really happy with it, how we tuned up the car quite well on the old tyre. We put on a better tyre and it did a good time. It’s very close, it’s good.”