John Bowe and Steven Johnson have set the scene for a top-end thriller in round three of the 2017 Touring Car Masters series following practice at Hidden Valley today. The pair finished one-two in combined times across today’s pair of 20-minute sessions in perfect Darwin conditions, Bowe’s Wilson Security / PAYCE Holden Torana A9X Sedan just 0.115s faster than Johnson’s Illusion Gas Log Fire / WM Waste Ford Mustang.
Bowe topped practice one while Johnson was faster in the second session – though the earlier session was the fastest of the two as the day got warmer and rubber was laid down on the 2.9km, 13-turn circuit. Both went to the top despite battling various maladies today, with Bowe nursing sore ribs from the Winton crash while Johnson deals with a nasty cold in the hot and muggy conditions.
In a day where many teams spent their track-time making sure repaired or re-engineered racing cars were working quickly, Jason Gomersall put the BigMate Racing Torana third overall and just 0.79s behind Bowe’s quickest time. Bruce Williams was fourth overall in the ACDelco Torana while Adam Bressington was fifth fastest in the Fabre / Whiteline Racing Camaro – making it four GM products in the top five at the end of the day.
Winton winner Eddie Abelnica was sixth overall in the Melbourne’s Cheapest Cars XB Falcon GTHO, with Ryan Hansford (Multispares Holden Torana), Tony Karanfilovski (Ford Mustang TransAm), Andrew Fisher (Jesus Racing Falcon GTHO) and Adam Garwood completing the top-10.
The competitive intent behind this weekends’ TCM field was noted by the fact just 1.8 seconds covered the 10 fastest cars at the end of the two practice sessions today.
Just outside the 10, Cameron Mason was eleventh, Greg Garwood 12th in the Ford Capri Perana while Wayne Mercer, Cameron Tilley and Jim Richards in 15th.
Richards’ had a challenging day in the return of the Shannons Insurance Ford Falcon Sprint, the car pulling to a halt early in the second session with an unknown issue that caused the car to cut out. The experienced Jim Richards Racing team will investigate the issue ahead of qualifying on Saturday morning.
On debut in TCM, Robert Braune was 16th in the Treloar Roses Chrysler Charger, with Leo Tobin, Mark King, Michael Cannon, Allen Boughen, Darren Beale and Bob Wisley completing the field.
The challenging conditions saw plenty of teams and drivers experimenting with car set up throughout the day. Issues included Andrew Fisher losing the bonnet of his Jesus Racing Falcon GTHO in the first practice, while Mark King’s borrowed HQ Holden sheered the wheel studs in the same session, causing a wheel and tyre to come lose.
Adam Garwood, a race winner last time out at Winton Raceway, bedded in a new Chevrolet engine in his Holden Torana.
The Touring Car Masters field returns for a 20-minute qualifying session in the morning, to be followed by the Dometic Trophy Race later in the afternoon.