John Bowe stormed from the back of the field to win the Waeco / Dometic TCM Trophy Race at Winton Motor Raceway – but he had to work for it. Bowe started 23rd in the reverse-grid affair but made up 13 places on the opening lap to quickly work his way towards the front of the field before taking a victory over Bruce Williams and Eddie Abelnica.
But as usual in the Touring Car Masters, it wasn’t as easy as that.
Starting from pole, Cameron Mason made the best possible start and was able to lead the first half of the race in his Shelby Mustang Coupe. Wayne Mercer and Leo Tobin settled into the top three positions while the fastest cars in qualifying worked their way through from the back of the field.
Bruce Williams was a star performer in his ACDelco Torana, jumping from 17th to 8th on the opening lap. He, Mason and Bowe then engaged in a thrilling battle for the lead with Williams ultimately passing both drivers in one corner as they ran three-wide into turn eleven on the seventh of twelve laps – Mason dropping behind the Toranas as they settled into an all-Holden fight for the lead.
Williams was able to withhold Bowe for two laps before the Wilson / Payce Torana was able to slip past with four laps to go.
Bowe ultimately edged away to take his 88th career Touring Car Masters race victory, Bruce Williams recording a career-best second with Eddie Abelnica third in his Melbourne’s Cheapest Cars XB Falcon coupe’.
Williams’ drive in particular thrilled the Winton crowd, sliding his blue Torana around as he battled for the lead. Abelnica, however, was the quiet achiever, working his way through the pack quietly and closing on the fast Toranas in the final few laps.
Mason finished fourth, Wayne Mercer fifth and Jason Gomersall sixth – having started from the back of the grid.
Tony Karanfilovski, Ryan Hansford, Leo Tobin were next with Bernie Stack 10th and first of the IROC Challenge Porsche 911s home.
Adam Garwood was the sole non-finisher, when he suffered damage after contact from Darren Beale on the opening lap. Beale’s HQ Monaro GTS 350 was unseated by the exit kerb at turn three, with the young Tasmanian unfortunately in the path of the sideways Monaro as it re-joined the racing line.
In her TCM debut, Melinda Price ran in the top five for the opening two laps and ultimately finished a solid 18th in her vicplates / Momo XA Falcon.
In qualifying Jason Gomersall had scored his first ever Touring Car Masters pole position in a thrilling six-minute shootout on Saturday morning at Winton. In a shortened session due to a lengthy red flag at the very start, Gomersall timed his run to perfection to jump to the top of the times after the chequered flag to bump John Bowe from the top spot by a tiny margin.
It was his first pole in TCM competition after having qualified second on five prior occasions – and the ultimate margin of 0.020 seconds was the second closest in TCM history. (The closest was in the inaugural year of TCM, when Steve Mason out-qualified Gavin Bullas by 0.0096s at Sydney Motorsport Park in 2007.)
It means the Bigmate Racing Torana will start from pole in the first of Sunday’s pair of points-paying races, with Bowe alongside.
The final grid is yet to be confirmed following a series of incidents being investigated by race control, including the one that brought out the lengthy red flag. The incident occurred within the first two minutes of the session, Steven Johnson and Adam Bressington making contact exiting turn nine. The impact damaged Johnson’s steering and left his WM Waste Falcon stranded on the circuit.
The pair will line up one-two for the two races on Sunday, the first starting at 9:20am.ng a career-best second with Eddie Abelnica third in his Melbourne’s Cheapest Cars XB Falcon coupe’.