HMO customer driver Will Brown has taken another step closer to securing the inaugural TCR Australia Championship after asolid second place in Race 1 today at Sandown.HMO customer driver Will Brown has taken another step closer to securing the inaugural TCR Australia Championship after a solid second place in Race 1 today at Sandown.

With 2 races remaining over the weekend, Brown has now extended his lead in the championship to 116 points and is able to wrap up the series over the course of this weekend, with 1 round remaining.

pic supplied by HMO Racing Australia

story supplied by Touring Car Times / Jordan Mulach.

A typical Melbourne day in September threw up tricky conditions for today’s opening TCR Australia series race at the iconic Sandown Raceway venue, giving the drivers a workout as an earlier shower made the track wet in parts and dry in others.

As the top runners started the race on a combination of slick Michelin tyres on the front and wets on the rear, eventual podium finishers Néstor Girolami and Will Brown had a tricky race of balancing their cars as the track dried up towards the end of the 20 lap dash.

For Girolami, the Wall Racing driver’s headaches were added to by not having any track experience other than practice yesterday, though the Argentinian topped both practice sessions as well as qualifying in his Honda Civic Type R TCR.

Speaking after taking victory, Girolami hailed the effort of Wall Racing and said the mix of tyres on the front and rear made it particularly hard towards the end.

“First of all, I’d like to congratulate all of the team at Wall Racing, they did a fantastic job; also Honda Australia and J.A.S Motorsport for giving me the opportunity to be here, it’s a pleasure,” he said.

“I’m so happy, I was really looking forward to this opportunity and now we have the pole, the win and (fastest in) both free practice, all in different conditions which was really difficult.

“I also congratulated the other guys who did a fantastic job, they were pushing so hard at the end. I was worried about my rear tyres because they were wet tyres and without any wet conditions, it’s difficult to adapt at the end.

“In the end it worked and I’m so happy and looking forward to tomorrow.”

Coming home just over two seconds behind Girolami, championship leader Brown says his Hyundai i30 N TCR had pace towards the end but admits the HMO Customer Racing entry was difficult to drive in the closing laps.

“It was fantastic, it was an awesome race and I wanted to put it to him (Girolami),” Brown said.

“We were trying to get past but John (Martin) got me at the start so I held back a bit and then had good pace at the end but with the wet tyres on the rear it was a handful; it was speedway style at the top! It was awesome, hopefully starting on the front row tomorrow we can have a good dice for the win.

With the opportunity to seal the championship this weekend, Brown says the HMO team didn’t tell him to back off, even when involved in a spirited battle for second.

“They didn’t tell me anything; when me and John made a bit of contact I thought about the championship then and to let him go but then noticed I had the pace and got on it. We’ve just got to get on and try for race wins.”

Girolami has the chance to notch up more wins in his first trip to Australia tomorrow and Brown can take the title across tomorrow’s two 20 lap races.