Bargwanna wins Rookie trophy in unforgettable international debut

Ben Bargwanna has capped off his Kumho TCR World Tour debut with the TCR Europe Rookie Trophy after finishing 12th overall in the second and final race of the inaugural round in Portugal.

With the historic event sharing the grid with TCR Europe, the race was dominated by Cyan Racing’s Santiago Urrutia and Thed Bjork in the teams’ two Lynk & Co 03 TCRs, while Dutchman Tom Coronel won the TCR Europe component.

Having finished 17th overall in the opening race of the weekend at Portimao, Bargwanna’s overall efforts in the drama-laden second race saw him take the outright rookie win ahead of Brit Isaac Smith and Viktor Andersson.

The Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series driver started the race from P19 and guided the Team Clairet Sport prepared Peugeot 308 TCR up the order on the opening lap after avoiding an incident involving former TCR Australia race-winner Nestor Girolami.

Taking advantage of the incidents, Bargwanna had made it to P14 during the first stint of the race before making up another position to 13th where he crossed the finish line.

The Victorian was then promoted to P12 after a post-race penalty was handed to Spaniard Felipe Fernandez for contact earlier in the race.

Following on from his rookie podium, Bargwanna was understandably thrilled with his debut.

“Sunday’s race, oh my god!” Bargwanna reacted.

“What a race. What a turnaround from yesterday. It’s been incredible and I can’t thank Team Clairet Sport enough.

“I came home top rookie and 12th outright from 19th on the grid. I’m so stoked, over the moon I can’t stop smiling.

“It’s been a whirlwind of emotions this weekend, but it has been one of the best of my life. I’m so happy, I can’t thank the Clairets, my parents and sponsors enough, it’s been incredible and I’m seriously so stoked.

“I’m covered in champagne, I’ve got a trophy and it’s not what I expected to be coming home with, but I’m so happy.

“We get to do it again at Spa and I just can’t wait to return to Europe.”

Bargwanna leaves Portugal with four points and in 15th place on the Kumho TCR World Tour standings alongside Serbian Dušan Borković, while he sits sixth on the TCR Europe standings having cross-entered the event.

The next round of the Kumho TCR World Tour will be at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on 26-28 May, while Bargwanna will now return to Australia for the second round of the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series season at Phillip Island on 12-14 May.

Tickets for Shannons SpeedSeries at Phillip Island are available for purchase on motorsporttickets.com.au, while the round will be broadcast live on Stan Sport.