Huff wins Race 3 and closes within one point from Michelisz
04 November 2023
After finishing second in this afternoon’s Race 2, Rob Huff took a dominant win in the final Kumho TCR World Tour/TCR Australia joint race at Eastern Creek. That was the second victory of the season for the Englishman who closed the gap to the World Tour leader Norbert Michelisz to one point only, while Yann Ehrlacher, who finished seventh after a troubled race, dropped 21 points behind.
Will Brown, the overall winner of the previous two races completed an impressive hat-trick of victories in TCR Australia; Brown looked even set to score a third overall win until he was notified a five-second penalty for jump start that eventually demoted him to third behind Michelisz.
In the standings of TCR Australia, Bailey Sweeny is still on top, but Josh Buchan continues to eat on his teammates’ advantage that is now of 29 points.
Brown had the pole, having outscored the rest of the field counting the points awarded in qualifying and the first two races; Huff was alongside him with Frédéric Vervisch and Michelisz filling the second row and Ehrlacher in P6; Ben Bargwanna started from the pit lane following a turbo failure. Vervisch sprinted from P4 ahead of Huff and Brown, but he made contact with Aaron Cameron who was on the outside line. Cameron spun off and rejoined at the back, while Huff moved into the lead ahead of Brown, Michelisz and Vervisch. Behind them Azcona, passed Ehrlacher and then muscled his way past Vervisch for P3. Huff was keeping Brown behind, knowing that the Australian would receive a five-second penalty for jump-start.
Ehrlacher was running seventh, his back protected by Ma Qing Hua; Azcona set the fastest lap but was also given a warning flag for track limits. Néstor Girolami and Santiago Urrutia had moved up to 12th and 13thafter starting from P19 and P22.
The gaps between the leading trio began to stretch, while Buchan was chasing the fifth-placed Azcona. In lap 10, Ehrlacher went wide at turn 1 and made contact with Ma Qing Qua; the Frenchman half-spun and lost the seventh place to his Chinese teammate who quickly handed the position back to him.
In lap 12, Buchan passed Azcona for P5 and the Spaniard fell under pressure from Ehrlacher. In lap 14, they were running abreast, but Azcona kept the position.
Up front, Huff took the chequered flag 2.3 seconds ahead of Brown who was demoted to third behind Michelisz; Vervisch was fourth ahead of Buchan, while Azcona kept Ehrlacher at bay and Girolami passed Ma on the line for the eighth place.
Huff said: “I had a very good start, but Fred was on the inside, and I didn’t see him when I turned in. Thankfully my teammate left me the room and I led into T1. Then I was keeping an eye on Brown, because he had had a great weekend and I had to give him the position in Race 2. He is not racing for the championship, but for me the win would make the difference in the title fight. I found some more pace in the car and was able to create a gap. Fantastic!”
Brown said: “It was an awesome weekend. I made a mistake in jumping the start and I had to fight to avoid dropping to fourth with the penalty. I could have taken a third win, but I got more than I expected. I’m really happy. I worked very hard and it has been amazing.”
The two series will join again next weekend at Bathurst’s Mount Panorama road course.
Sydney – Race 3
1. Rob Huff (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS), 17 laps
2. Norbert Michelisz (BRC Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N), 4.3310
3. Will Brown (Melbourne Performance Centre, Audi RS 3 LMS), 7.3299
Championship points – TCR World Tour
1. N. Michelisz, 327 pts; 2. R. Huff 326; 3. Y. Ehrlacher, 306
Championship points – TCR Australia
1. B. Sweeny, 708 pts; 2. J. Buchan, 679; 3. A. Cameron, 659
Picture: TCR Australia/Daniel Kalisz
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