The 2023 Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series season has officially come to its conclusion, with HMO Customer Racing Hyundai’s Josh Buchan crowned the champion following a chaotic final round at the famous Mount Panorama.
The New South Welshman secured the title during race three of the Supercheap Auto Bathurst International, which was competing alongside Kumho TCR World Tour in the second leg of its tour down under.
However, while it took all the way up until the final race of the season for the winner to be decided, the battle for top honours had plenty of twists and turns and provided plenty of entertainment throughout.
Ahead of the penultimate round of the season at Race Sydney, Buchan’s Hyundai teammate, Bailey Sweeny sat atop the series standings with a 30-point advantage.
The battle seemed to be a two-horse race for much of the year, but a solid round at Sandown Raceway in September would ultimately allow Garry Rogers Motorsport’s Aaron Cameron to enter the conversation.
Cameron would further apply the pressure by finishing second for the Aussies in the opening race of Race Sydney, as 2019 champion Will Brown shocked the world with an emphatic victory under the lights of Sydney Motorsport Park.
With the top 10 reverted for race two, Cameron would find himself in the lead before he was handed a five second penalty for a jump start, shifting the advantage back to the Hyundai duo.
In the third and final outing of Race Sydney, Buchan managed to close the gap to Sweeny, setting up an intriguing finale the famous Bathurst circuit one week later.
The opening race of the season finale again saw Cameron apply the early pressure, but this time it was Buchan who would prevail as the duo finished eighth and ninth in the outright field respectively, and second and third out of the Australian drivers – giving the rivals the ultimate advantage for the reverse-grid race two.
With Buchan minimising the buffer on Sweeny to just 15 points, while Cameron was 35 points off, Sweeny needed a good result to ensure he enters the final race of the year in a somewhat comfortable state.
Unfortunately, that’s when everything started going wrong for the pre-round favourite.
Sweeny would begin to slow on the opening lap of race two when his intercooler came loose on his Hyundai, forcing him to the pits. By the time he returned to the track, he was unable to complete enough laps to classify and was given zero points for his efforts.
Meanwhile, a second-place outright finish for Cameron was enough to claim maximum points available for the Australian series, while Buchan’s third in category was enough to elevate him to top spot and ensure a 19-point advantage with one race to come.
Both Buchan and Cameron would start the race inside the outright top 10, with Sweeny required to work his way through the field if he had any chance of claiming the title.
In a turn of events, Buchan would begin to fall down the order as Sweeny showed some signs of life.
Cameron charged to the head of the TCR Australia pack in his attempt to steal the title from Buchan but would soon suffer the ultimate downfall when he was forced to retire his Peugeot due to overheating.
Crossing the line in 14th outright and fifth in TCR Australia, Buchan eventually earned enough points to secure the title ahead of Sweeny, who had produced a gallant effort and charged his way into eighth outright and second behind Tony D’Alberto for the local contingent.
However, the drama wouldn’t end there – as Sweeny was later disqualified from the session due to a technical breach – surrendering second place in the standings to D’Alberto as a result, who ultimately ended with the round win for TCR Australia.