Hyundai leads 2023 TCR Australia Championship with dominant Tassie performance.
Hyundai has taken an early lead in the 2023 TCR Australia Championship with a dominant performance, and overall round victory, by rising star Bailey Sweeny during the season opener at Symmons Plains in Tasmania.
Sweeny proved he will be a genuine title contender in his sophomore season with HMO Customer Racing, winning two of the three 30-lap races from the front row of the grid and setting the fastest lap in his Hyundai i30 N TCR.
The 20-year-old from Batemans Bay on the NSW South Coast, who finished fifth and won the rookie of the year award in his debut season last year, qualified in third position but started the opening race unchallenged at the front of the field after a mechanical issue ruled out polesitter Will Brown and a technical infringement sent teammate, Josh Buchan, to the rear of the field from second place.
Sweeny went on to score a dominant lights-to-flag victory in the first race and greeted the chequered flag 7.6 seconds clear of reigning TCR Australia champion, Tony D’Alberto, while Buchan quickly clawed his way through the backmarkers to cross the line in seventh. He was later promoted to sixth following a post-race penalty for rival Aaron Cameron.
Buchan hoped to salvage a haul of points in the second race, which starts with the top 10 in reverse order. But he suffered a mechanical issue on the start line that restricted the power output of his Hyundai i30 Sedan N TCR and subsequently dropped to ninth.
Sweeny, on the other hand, continued to showcase his speed and marched through the field to finish sixth, which gave him the highest aggregate pointscore to start the final race from pole position.
Even though he dropped two positions on the opening lap, Sweeny clawed back to the front by the middle of the race and then built a comfortable lead to take his fourth individual race victory and score his second successive TCR Australia round following his maiden win at the 2022 season finale, the Bathurst International at Mount Panorama, last November.
Buchan, who started from the back of the grid in the final race, quickly moved into the top 10 in the opening laps, but any further progress was halted by being stuck at the rear of a four-car, nose-to-tail train. He crossed the finished line in ninth.
As a result, Sweeny leads the 2023 TCR Australia Championship standings for the first time with 137 points - 14 ahead of D’Alberto - with Buchan in eighth on 92 points.
The second round of the 2023 TCR Australia Championship will be held at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on May 12-14.
Car 30: i30 Sedan N TCR - Josh Buchan
“We didn’t have the weekend we expected with a few curveballs thrown at us that put us on the back foot right from the outset.
“The team at HMO Customer Racing did an amazing job to rectify the issues and we know we have a very fast car. But we just didn’t have the opportunities to showcase its speed here at Symmons Plains because it is such a difficult track with limited passing. If we had kept our second place from qualifying it would have made the rest of the weekend a lot easier, but that’s racing…“On the bright side, we got a bunch of points, the car isn’t damaged and we’ve learnt a lot more about the Hyundai i30 Sedan N TCR. Plus, we’re not taking any success penalties to Phillip Island where we know the car will be strong and I can guarantee we will try everything to get back to the front and make it a lot easier than what we had here.”
Car 130: i30 N TCR - Bailey Sweeny
“I couldn’t ask for a better way to start the championship, with two race wins and leading the championship for the first time. It’s my second round victory in a row.
“We showed last year that the momentum was building from the middle of the season, which we’ve put into effect right from the start of this year. Hopefully we can continue be among the front runners at Phillip Island and be consistent to stay at the top of the ladder.”
Race Results: Round 1, Symmons Plains, Tasmania
2023 TCR Australia Championship Standings
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.
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.
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.
Uniquely, this year will include two rounds of the new TCR World Tour in Australia, including the Bathurst International at Mount Panorama in November with the other round yet to be confirmed.
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.