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Ben Bargwanna ready to take on Kumho TCR World Tour opener

Another Australian will enter the international TCR stage this weekend as Ben Bargwanna prepares to take on some of the world’s best touring car drivers at Portimao.

It will be a history-making event signalling a new era of elite global touring car racing as the inaugural round of the Kumho TCR World Tour takes place at Portimao with Lynk & Co, Honda, Hyundai and Audi represented in the field.

Bargwanna is on the eve of making his international touring car debut and is excited to fulfill an aim first devised when the category arrived locally in 2019 when he takes the start in a Burson Auto Parts-backed Team Clairet Sport Peugeot 308 TCR.

“I’m itching, I’m shaking, I’m excited, I’m buzzing, I’m going through all the emotions at the moment, but I’m so stoked,” said Bargwanna.

“It’s going to be one of the best experiences of my life and I can’t wait to go racing, I’m really keen.

“As soon as TCR came to Australia, dad and I looked at the overseas possibilities, but even still we’ve been talking about it for years and it’s never felt like it’s been a real opportunity. Then, all of a sudden it is and it seems unreal it’s happening, we’re actually doing this, we’re going overseas to race the best.

“It is a cool feeling especially when I remember watching the first Sydney (TCR Australia) race with dad and just talking about how cool this category looks to now going over to Portugal to take on the world’s best.”

A wide array of drivers will take the field in an expected 40-car entry including previous world champions Yann Ehrlacher, Mikael Azcona, Norbert Mischelisz, Thed Bjork and Rob Huff, while Tom Coronel, Santiago Urrutia, Ma Qing Hua, John Filippi, young Brits Isaac Smith and Lewis Brown as well as Supercheap Auto TCR Australia race winner Nestor Girolami.

“The list of big names makes it more exciting and every time there has been an announcement I give dad a call or send him a message saying look who we’ll be racing,” Bargwanna revealed.

“That’s what you want to be racing the best of the best and these guys made TCR what it is, these drivers are the superstars of this category.

“It’s going to be cool to shape up against them and hopefully we can mix it up the front, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

Bargwanna has been able to tap into the experience of Aaron Cameron after he represented Australia at the FIA World Motorsport Games in addition to Frenchman Teddy Clairet and father Jason to help in his preparation.

“Aaron and I are good friends so we talk a lot, he just said they race really hard over there,” Bargwanna recalled.

“I also have a good relationship with Teddy Clairet and he has kept us up to date with everything that’s been going on in addition to helping us get up to speed.

“Dad’s got a bit of overseas experience, where he actually represented Australia alongside Marcos Ambrose and they were only talking about it at dinner only recently.

“I’ll be able to tap into his knowledge, which will be helpful when I get there.”

Not only will Bargwanna get the experience, but he will score points toward the TCR World Ranking where the top 45 will automatically qualify for the final at a yet to be confirmed venue next year.

“Our plan is to get invited to the TCR World Final, so the more points we can score the better,” Bargwanna confirmed.

“I think these two Kumho TCR World Tour events I’ll do at Portimao and Spa, in addition to the two local rounds as well as the whole Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series, I will do well in terms of ranking system.

“It’s going to be cool and I like the idea of the Kumho TCR World Rankings system, I think it’s a great initiative.”

Bargwanna will take to the track starting with testing on Thursday, practice on Friday, with qualifying on Saturday followed by two races to be held across the weekend.

SCHEDULE
Thursday, April 27 (Times converted to AEST)
Private Testing 1 6:00pm
Private Testing 2 1:30am (Friday Australian time)

Friday, April 28
Practice 1 8:54pm
Practice 2 1:42am (Saturday Australian time)

Saturday, April 29
Qualifying 6:50pm
Race 1 11:20pm

Sunday, April 30
Race 2 8:30pm