Dylan O’Keeffe has rebounded for a top 10 result in round one of the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series at Symmons Plains, despite being challenged by technical gremlins and incidents.
Sunday practice had been billed as extremely important for the Garry Rogers Motorsport driver, who had previously never competed at the Symmons Plains Circuit. Unfortunately, as luck would have it practice two was sliced in half for O’Keeffe with an issue on the car requiring time in the garage.
“The whole weekend could probably be put down to the issue we had on Sunday in practice two. There was a pretty big break on the car that actually damaged quite a few components and so the team had a big job fixing all of that,” O’Keeffe said.
“It limited our running so we couldn’t quite grab all the information we would have liked, plus as it turned out there was a knock-on effect throughout the whole event due to that damage.”
Monday qualifying began positively with O’Keeffe’s early laps elevating him and his #33 Renault Megane R.S. amongst the top 10 on the timesheets. Issues were still prevalent however, with a broken Lambda sensor limiting the available power and severely hampering the straight-line performance of the car and O’Keeffe ended the session 13th fastest.
In race one, O’Keeffe was able to jockey for position early on as tyres came up to temperature. The sensor issue wasn’t able to be immediately fixed and so straight-line speed remained a prevalent problem throughout the race. Despite the drama O’Keeffe was steadfast behind the wheel, fighting hard but fair to minimise the losses and driving his Renault to 14th.
“It was all about damage control really, we were down quite a bit with our pace in a straight line which was pretty damming for a track that is all about the straights. Honestly, it was probably the best we could do with the cards we were dealt,” O’Keeffe said.
O’Keeffe entered Tuesday with high hopes of recovering from a poor start to the event but quickly saw his hopes dashed in race two after contact and a subsequent spin with Michael Caruso on the opening lap.
“I’m really disappointed for the team, you always hate it when two cars from the same group get together and especially with the weekend we were having it was the last thing we wanted,” O’Keeffe said.
The incident required a safety car, from which O’Keeffe restarted last on track but a great race from that point saw O’Keeffe climb the order to finish the second race of the weekend in 11th.
The final race of the event saw O’Keeffe in amongst the battles in the mid-pack, picking up a couple of spots late in the race after a frenetic opening few laps. After running as low as 15th, O’Keeffe came home in 10th place, notching up his first top 10 of the season. At the conclusion of the event O’Keeffe sits 10th in the overall championship for the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series.
“On face value I’m disappointed with how the round went, we came in expecting to be competitive and even without any obvious damage in that final race we found ourselves lacking a bit. Good news is we head to Phillip Island next and I’ve always loved that place, going fastest there in the testing is a confidence booster as well. We’ll spend the time between rounds analysing what we got wrong and we’ll come out of the gates firing for round two,” O’Keeffe concluded.
Round Results Summary:
Qualifying – 13th
Race 1 – 14th
Race 2 – 11th
Race 3 – 10th
Championship Points After Round 1:
- Jordan Cox – 126
- Lee Holdsworth – 122
- Chaz Mostert – 110
- Luke King – 102
- Josh Buchan – 100
- Nathan Morcom – 92
- Aaron Cameron – 79
- Brad Shiels – 73
- Jay Hanson – 62
- Dylan O’Keeffe – 62