Santiago Urrutia won the first of the three Kumho TCR World Tour/TCR Australia joint races at Bathurst’s Mount Panorama road course ahead of Néstor Girolami and the pole sitter Tony D’Alberto.
Yann Ehrlacher recovered from P7 on the grid to finish fourth, the best of the title contenders, while his competitors Rob Huff and Norbert Michelisz were classified sixth and tenth. These results helped Huff into the lead of the standings, six points ahead of Ehrlacher and seven of Michelisz.
In TCR Australia, Josh Buchan was second behind D’Alberto and so reduced his gap to his teammate and points leader Bailey Sweeny to 16 points.
Race 1 – D’Alberto had a slow get away from the pole and Urrutia jumped into the lead from Girolami, D’Alberto and Mikel Azcona; Ehrlacher moved up to fifth after starting from P7, ahead of Thed Björk, Buchan, Huff and Frédéric Vervisch. Michelisz dropped one place from 11th on the grid to 12th behind Aaron Cameron and Zac Soutar.
Urrutia was able to build a small gap ahead of the pair of Honda cars of Girolami and D’Alberto. Behind them, Azcona was comfortable in fourth position ahead of Ehrlacher, while Björk defended his sixth position from Buchan. In lap 4, Sweeny passed Will Brown for P14 and Michelisz overtook Soutar for P11.
One lap later, Azcona slowed from fourth with a flat front tyre; before making it to the pits, the Spaniard pulled up along the track and the safety car was deployed with four laps to go.
Racing resumed for the two final laps, with Huff passing Buchan for P6; Vervisch imitated his teammate and passed Buchan as well during the last lap.
Urrutia won from Girolami and D’Alberto, with Ehrlacher fourth and Huff sixth behind Björk; Michelisz was classified tenth and won the pole position for Race 2 that is due to start Sunday at 12:50 local time (02:50 CET), with live streaming on tcr-series.tv and YouTube.
Urrutia said: “It was really good. We showed our speed even last weekend, but it has been a year of ups and downs for me. To collect my third victory means that I have been quick but not consistent. Sometimes I’ve been happy and sometimes I haven’t, but this is racing and now I’m super happy!”
D’Alberto said: “Unfortunately I have not made a fast start, and this spoiled my chances to win the race. No doubt I had a great car, capable to win but at the start I have been jammed and so I focused to score maximum points for TCR Australia.”
Bathurst – Race 1
Championship points – TCR World Tour
Championship points – TCR Australia
Picture: TCR Australia/Daniel Kalisz