Hyundai’s Josh Buchan fights back with top five results as TCR World Tour arrives in Australia.

06 November, 2023

  • Hyundai driver Josh Buchan charged back to score two top five finishes against the world’s best TCR drivers.
  • Bailey Sweeny protected his TCR Australia Championship lead.
  • HMO Customer Racing heads into the title-deciding final round at Bathurst with both drivers at the top of the table .

Hyundai drivers Josh Buchan and Bailey Sweeny matched the world’s best touring car drivers in a challenging, weather-effected first Australian round of the TCR World Tour at Sydney Motorsport Park.

The HMO Customer Racing teammates scored a double podium - finishing second and third on points among the local drivers - in the sixth and penultimate round of the TCR Australia Championship.

The duo now heads into the championship-deciding final round of the 2023 TCR Australia series - and another round of the TCR World Tour - at Mount Panorama next weekend at the top of the driver’s standings, with Sweeny holding a 29-point advantage over Buchan.

The condensed two-day schedule at Sydney Motorsport Park started on a positive note for HMO Customer Racing with Buchan setting the fastest time in a 15-minute warm-up session.

Both drivers fine-tuned their machines on used tyres during the opening practice session to finish with the 12th and 13th fastest times respectively and backed-up their pace with Buchan slotting into the top 10, in ninth, in second practice, followed by Sweeny in 11th.

A light rain shower hit the track moments before qualifying, throwing a spanner in the works. Both drivers made it through the first section but chose an alternate tyre strategy for the top 10 shootout: Sweeny opting to run on four slick tyres while Buchan continued with an off-set slick front/wet rear set-up. With the track drying, Sweeny’s inspired gamble paid dividends as he set the fourth fastest time while Buchan could only manage seventh.

The first 17-lap race, held under lights, was a frantic affair. Buchan and Sweeny were among the fastest cars in the opening segment and closing in on the leaders when a sudden downpour created havoc and the majority of runners - including both Buchan and Sweeny - skidded off the track at Turn Two, leading to a red flag stoppage.

When the race re-started, both drivers struggled on wet tyres and fell back through the field with Sweeny crossing the finish line in 14th and Buchan in 16th.

Fired-up for the second race, held in dry conditions, Buchan showed the true pace of his HMO Customer Racing Hyundai i30 Sedan N TCR by charging into the top five and challenging factory Hyundai driver and TCR World Tour Championship leader, Hungarian Norbert Michelisz, with Sweeny tailing him home in sixth.

Buchan repeated his form with another fifth-place finish in the final 17-lapper under lights, while Sweeny consolidated his TCR Championship lead by staying out of trouble in 11th.

The seventh and final round of the 2023 TCR Australia Championship will be held at Mount Panorama, Bathurst, on November 10-12 as part of the TCR World Tour.

Car 30: i30 Sedan N TCR - Josh Buchan

“Wow, what an up-and-down weekend that was. It started off pretty well being the quickest in the warm-up, and then we just fine-tuned the car through the practice sessions. We proved to be the quickest in every race and were flying in race one before the downpour. "

“We definitely had a car to fight at the front this weekend, but we lost track position on the wet tyres in the second half of the opening race and had to fight back from there. Picking off 15 spots in the last two races was pretty crazy and shows what could have been"

“Now, it’s just eyes forward looking at Bathurst. I’ve reduced the gap to Sweeny out in front and increased the gap to third behind me, so all-in-all it’s not too bad. Sweeny is pretty quick up at the mountain, but we’ve always picked up a trophy at Bathurst and if there is a move to be made then we’ll take it.”

Car 130: i30 N TCR - Bailey Sweeny

“Our goal this weekend was to protect the championship lead heading into Bathurst, and we managed to do just that. But it wasn’t easy. We looked good after qualifying on the second row, but then really struggled for pace in the wet in the second half of race one – that was crazy!"

“That put us on the back foot for the rest of the weekend, but we had great speed in the dry and we showed our pace coming through from 14th to sixth in race two. The last race, I just got boxed around a bit at the beginning, so I let them go to stay out of trouble."

“Bathurst is one of my strongest tracks: we had two rounds there last year and I won both of them. So I’m confident we can repeat that next weekend and take home the championship.”

Race Results: Round 4, Queensland Raceway, Victoria

  Josh Buchan     Bailey Sweeny  
Practice 1   P13 (1:36.4157sec)     P12 (1:36.2981sec)  
Practice 2   P9 (1:35.8777sec)     P11 (1:35.9231sec)  
Qualifying   P7 (1:43.1993sec)     P4 (1:39.3579sec)  
Race 1   P16 (1:37.0801sec)     P14 (1:37.7386sec)  
Race 2   P5 (1:36.0981sec - FL)     P6 (1:36.4159sec)  
Race 3   P5 (1:36.4657sec)     P5 (1:150168sec)  

2023 TCR Australia Championship Standings (provisional)

Position   Name     Car     Points  
1   Bailey Sweeny     Hyundai i30 N TCR     708  
2   Josh Buchan     Hyundai i30 Sedan N TCR     679  
3   Aaron Cameron     Peugeot 308 TCR     659  
4   Tony D’Alberto     Honda Civic Type R     612  
5   Jordan Cox     Peugeot 308 TCR     598  
6   Lachlan Minneef     Audi RS3 LMS     571  
7   Ben Bargwanna     Peugeot 308 R     526  
8   Tom Oliphant     Lynk&Co 3 TCR     470  
9   Michael Clemente     Cupra Leon TCR     434  
10   Will Brown     Audi RS3 LMS     404  

Hyundai i30 Sedan N TCR

The Hyundai i30 Sedan N TCR (known as the Elantra N TCR in Europe and North America) is the latest generation touring car developed by Hyundai Motorsport’s Customer Racing division.

Revealed for the first time at the Beijing Motor Show in 2020 as a replacement for the successful i30 N TCR and Veloster N TCR models, it quickly established itself as a championship winner when Sebastien Loeb Racing won the 2021 TCR Europe title with Spanish driver Mikel Azcona.

Last year, Hyundai Motorsport clinched its third drivers’ title and second teams’ championship in the World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) with Azcona and BRC Hyundai Squadra Corsa, as well as a clean sweep of the TCR category in the North American IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with Bryan Herta Autosport claiming the drivers’, teams’ and manufacturers’ titles and a double title victory for Niels Langeveld and Target Competition in the ultra-competitive TCR Italy regional championship.

The Hyundai Elantra N currently sits second and third on the 2023 TCR World Tour with former champions Norbert MIchelisz and Michel Azcona first and second in the drivers’ championship standings and BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse second in the team’s rankings.

Based on the road-going i30 Sedan N, the TCR variant maintains strong links between the Hyundai Motorsport vehicles that racing fans see on track and the standard production cars they drive and in showrooms.

In line with TCR regulations, the i30 Sedan N TCR is front-wheel drive and powered by a 2.0-litre turbo charged four-cylinder engine built specifically by Hyundai Motorsport and directly related to the motor in the road-going i30 Sedan N.

  Hyundai i30 Sedan N TCR Specifications  
Length 4,710 mm
Width 1,950 mm
Wheelbase 2,750 mm
Weight 1,265 kg (including driver)
Engine 1,998 cc turbocharged four-cylinder, DOHC, 16 valves
Power 257 kW at 7,000 rpm
Torque 450 Nm at 3,500 rpm
Transmission Six-speed sequential with paddle shift, front-wheel drive
Suspension (Front) Fully adjustable MacPherson strut with coil springs & anti-roll bar
Suspension (Rear) Fully adjustable four-arm multi-link with coil springs & anti-roll bar
Steering Electrically assisted rack and pinion
Brakes (Front) Six-piston callipers and 380 mm ventilated disc
Brakes (Rear) Two-piston callipers with 278 mm disc
Wheels 18” x 10” Braid alloys specifically designed for Hyundai Motorsport
Tyres Kumho TCR slicks
Fuel Tank 100 litres with dry-brake system

About the 2023 TCR Australia Championship

The 2023 TCR Australia Championship consists of seven rounds, each with three races.

Two practice sessions are held before the opening qualifying session with the top 10 fastest drivers progressing to a 15-minute shootout that determines the final starting positions for the opening race.

In the second race, the drivers that finish race one in the top 10 positions are reversed. And, in the final race - which pays double points - the starting positions are determined by the driver’s aggregated point score.

As for the points scoring system, the fastest five drivers in qualifying score bonus points, and, in the three races, the first and third races are worth equal points while the reverse Top 10 second race is worth 80 per cent (see table below). The driver with the fastest lap in each of the three races also picks up an extra point.

Points Scoring System

      1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10  
  Qualifying     10     7     5     3     2                      
  Race 1 & 3     50     46     42     38     36     31     29     27     25     23  
  Race 2     40     36     32     28     26     24     22     20     18     16  

Uniquely, this season will include two rounds of the new TCR World Tour in Australia, including Sydney Motorsport Park and the season finale Bathurst International at Mount Panorama in November.

The TCR World Tour, which replaces the previous WTCR World Touring Car Cup, will be contested over nine rounds from the 200 TCR-sanctioned events to be held across the globe in 2023 with 16 of the world’s best touring car drivers racing against the local competitors.

Every driver in all TCR sanctioned championships will score points on the TCR World Rankings with the top 30 then invited to compete in the TCR World Final at the end of the season.

The 2023 TCR Australia Championship will be broadcast live on Stan Sport in Australia.

  2023 TCR Australia Championship Schedule  
Round 1 February 24-26, Symmons Plains, Tasmania
Round 2 May 12-14, Phillip Island, Victoria
Round 3 June 9-11, Winton Raceway, Victoria
Round 4 August 11-13, Queensland Raceway, Queensland
Round 5 September 8-10, Sandown Raceway, Victoria
Round 6 November 3-5, Sydney Motorsport Park, New South Wales
Round 7 November 10-12, Mount Panorama, New South Wales