JK Vernay came and conquered at Queensland Raceway with a perfect start to his guest appearance in the carsales TCR Australia Series.
The Frenchman proved why he is a highly-rated factory Audi driver as he gave a driving lesson to the Australian TCR hopefuls, qualifying on pole position and then converting a textbook start into an easy win in his pocket-rocket Audi RS 3.
Championship hopeful Dylan O’Keefe was a solid second in his Alfa Romeo Giulietta and racey veteran Russell Ingall scored his first podium placing since he retired from Supercars when he dashed home in third with a second Audi RS3.
The big loser at QR was title leader Will Brown who was involved in a first-lap skirmish, lost a lap to replace a flat tyre, and was finally hit with a drive-through penalty after short-cutting the course while limping back to the pits.
Martin had started his Honda Civic Type R alongside Vernay and when the Frenchman wobbled on the first lap he looked to capitalise in Turn 6 onto the front straight.
But Brown was also looking to overtake in his Hyundai i30 N and the pair tangled, both suffering damage, taking much of the sting out of the battle.
With the battle pack split by the incident, it was left to O’Keefe and Tony D’Alberto in the second Honda Civic to provide the excitement, although the Alfa seemed unable to make move. He was able to get past D’Alberto when he made a mistake at Turn 1, dropping to fourth.
James Moffat drove from the pitlane to ninth after a mechanical problem with his Renault Megane before the start, while Andre Heimgartner’s miserable season continued when the engine blew in his Holden Astra – a replacement for the Subaru WRX he had previously driven – in qualifying. He plans to be back in action on Sunday for the final two races of the QR weekend.
Two races will be held tomorrow, with the live, free and HD broadcast on SBS, or live streamed on the TCR Australia website.