The battle for the TCR Australia Series will be pushed to its limits after Jordan Cox miraculously recovered from last to ninth race in the opening race at the Bathurst International.
With the top 10 finish, the Garry Rogers Motorsport driver earned a front row start for race two on Sunday morning thanks to the reverse grid format.
In contrast, it was a rough day for series leader Tony D’Alberto, who started 12th and finished 12th in a chaotic opening to the SpeedSeries closer.
Stan Sport is the only place to watch the 2022 SpeedSeries. All action streaming without ads, live and on demand
Race winner Bailey Sweeny would have been none the wiser of the melee unfolding behind him as he went from lights to flag.
Sweeny, who won Friday’s two practice sessions, claimed his second win of the season for HMO Customer Racing at Mount Panorama.
The Hyundai i30 N driver started from second and was able to get away better than pole position starter Jay Hanson to lead into Hell Corner.
READ MORE: Fear of ‘shyness’ at infected World Cup
READ MORE: Simple message that FIFA has banned from jerseys
READ MORE: ‘Cruel’ fate awaits England as World Cup bid fails
Just a few rows back, Josh Buchan pulled up his all-new Hyundai and dropped last.
Melbourne Performance Center ace Will Brown only narrowly missed the stricken car when he swerved hard across the track.
The star of the start, however, was Cox who, from last on the grid, made up eight places by the time he reached Griffins Bend.
TCR ace climbs eight places in two turns
After a relatively clean start to the race, Sweeny led Jay Hanson and Dylan O’Keeffe with Nathan Morcom and Ben Bargwanna just off the podium in fourth and fifth respectively.
It was a pedestrian start for D’Alberto, who was only 13th at the end of the first lap.
After a relatively quiet start to the race, the safety car was called to the track after kangaroos got too close to the track on lap 13.
After the field piled up, the race resumed with five laps to go.
Crucially, Cox retained 10th place, which would give him pole position in the reverse grid for race two.
However, his hopes were dashed when Luke King got his Hyundai inside at Forest Elbow and took his place at The Chase.
What followed was a hectic conclusion to the race. A desperate dive from Cox at The Cutting saw him make contact with King.
King later made his way to the pit lane with damage, while Cox rose to 10th place.
The drama continued when Hanson lost control of his car approaching Reid Park and slammed the left side of the car hard against the concrete.
The impact was so great that the suspension fell out of the underside of the car.
Hanson broke free from the car and the racing continued. At the head of the field, Sweeny was undisturbed. O’Keeffe was second and Morcom third.
As a result of the crash, Cox rose to ninth place, while wildcard Teddy Clairet moved up to 10th to take pole position in the reverse grid.
After coming into the race for 48 points over D’Alberto, Cox narrowed that margin to 35 points.
Brown is now 49 points from the lead, while Buchan is a distant fourth, 79 points behind.
The second and third race will start on Sunday at 9.25am and 3.50pm respectively.
For a daily dose of the best of the latest news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter at click here