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New car, new horizons for privateer

AFTER seasons of toil, Michael Clemente’s gamble to bring a new marque into TCR Australia brought immediate rewards.

Having previously run Honda and Audi machinery, Clemente debuted a Cupra Leon on the weekend at Phillip Island.

By the end of his second race aboard the car, he all of a sudden was a race winner, having got the job done with a forceful last-lap pass on Jordan Cox.

Clemente had to settle for second behind Josh Buchan in Race 3 but that nevertheless rounded out a stellar display.

“It’s awesome. As a driver, it really helps with confidence and because of the bad luck and the struggles we’ve had in the last few years, it was something that as a team we collectively needed,” he told V8 Sleuth.

Clemente takes the chequered flag. Pic: Supplied/Jack Martin

“It was good to finally stick it to a few people that maybe thought that we couldn’t and now our little team can. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Clemente initially battled extreme oversteer but a late Saturday night by his crew transformed the Cupra into a “rocket” – something which he labelled a relief after a long wait to align with the Spanish manufacturer.

“I put so much bloody pressure on myself coming into this round, I was struggling for sleep,” admitted Clemente.

“To do it, it’s awesome to get the monkey off the back but I know the hard work doesn’t stop and it’s a long year ahead.

Michael Clemente. Pic: Supplied/Jack Martin

“We need to maximise on the opportunity while the car is fresh and new, we really need to do the best we can.

“We’re super focused, super hungry going into the next couple of rounds and we’ll see where we are after another five races.”

It was not such a successful first-up TCR Australia appearance for Lynk & Co, with Tom Oliphant a DNF in Race 1, eighth in Race 2, and ninth in Race 3.

With two race wins either side of Clemente’s triumph, the round honours went to Buchan.

The #15 Cupra Leon. Pic: Supplied/Jack Martin
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