"I felt helpless": D'Alberto relives tense TCR finale

Tony D'Alberto says he felt "helpless" during a tense final TCR Australia round that ultimately saw him crowned champion.

"I felt helpless": D'Alberto relives tense TCR finale
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The factory-supported Honda driver went into the final round of the season holding a somewhat healthy 46-point lead over Peugeot's Jordan Cox and Audi's Will Brown.

However, between Balance of Performance measures and the Honda's inherent lack of competitiveness at Mount Panorama, the weekend turned into a grind for D'Alberto.

He was only able to qualify 12th, while an 11th-place finish in Race 1 left him susceptible to his closest title rivals.

There was some luck with Race 2 washed out, robbing his rivals of a chance to take more points off the hobbled Honda driver.

That left him with a 49-point lead heading into the final race, which meant he needed to finish 12th or better to secure the title even if Cox or Brown won the race.

That wound up being harder than expected, though, with Brown charging into an early lead.

At one point D'Alberto slipped back as far as 14th, at which point Brown was ahead on the live points.

It was only thanks to some late failures, including a mechanical for Cox, that D'Alberto was able to salvage his title hopes with an 11th place finish.

Reflecting on the tense finale, D'Alberto said he wasn't entirely across the title scenario, but could tell from the team comms that he was in danger of letting it slip.

“Well, the guys didn’t actually say that but I could tell in their voice that we were in trouble," D'Alberto told the Castrol Motorsport News podcast.

"My engineer, at the safety car, said ‘mate, I know you’re doing the best you can, but I need you to get past the guys in front’.

"At that point I thought, ‘oh shit, we’re in trouble’.

"The biggest surprise for me, to be honest, was that Will managed to get to the lead. I didn’t see that coming at all.

"Obviously we know how good he is and he put on a show in that last race and really gave it to us, so it was nailbiting.

“Over the weekend I felt really helpless. I could see the championship potentially slipping away and I had no pace in the Honda because of BoP and probably because for whatever reason the Honda, with the torque of the motor, it doesn’t seem to suit Bathurst…

"I did feel quite helpless going back to Bathurst for a second time in the year. It almost gave all my competitors a second opportunity to try to eat away at the points.

"It is difficult to accept sometimes. You get your success ballast based on the previous round and then you go to a track that you are going to suck at anyway and it’s like a double whammy.

"We were always playing the championship card so we didn’t play games of trying to sandbag in qualifying, we just gave it everything every time and it meant we went to Bathurst with a heap of weight onboard.

"It was tough work I can tell you, we just had no straight-line whatsoever."


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