Steven Johnson completed a Saturday sweep in the ENZED Touring Car Masters at Symmons Plains today – claiming two victories, pole position and the lap record in the Dunlop Super Dealer Ford Mustang. On his debut in the category, Johnson broke free of the chasing pack in the early stages of both 12-lappers and lowered the lap record with a 56.82s in the opening race.
The only hairy moment for the ex-V8 Supercar pilot occurred on the opening lap of race one, where Gavin Bullas almost took out both front-running Mustangs on cold brakes at turn three. Tasmania’s Greg Crick flew the local flag strongly in the afternoon race after spinning from third in the closing stages this morning. The Mopar Performance Chrysler Charger was scored as the runner up in race two.
Eddie Abelnica, piloting the Melbourne’s Cheapest Cars XB Coupe, continued his strong start to the year with a pair of 3rd place finishes around the 2.4 kilometre course. Brett Youlden was a mainstay in the top five during both races, with the Autoline Spark Plugs Monaro suited well to the tricky Tasmania circuit.
After brushing the fence in the early stages of race one, the Valiant Pacer of Cameron Tilley crossed the line fifth in race two for his second top-10 finish of the weekend. Jason Gomersall was a picture of consistency in both of today’s 12-lap sprint races and finished seventh twice in his iSeek-backed Holden Torana. Bill Pye, Andrew Fisher and Keith Kassulke also recorded top-10 finishes during the Saturday running, banking all-important championship points early in the season.
After a strong run to second place in the opening race this morning, Gavin Bullas suffered a mechanical issue mid-way through race two and was forced to pull into the pits. The Victorian appeared to be Johnson’s closest competitor this weekend; however he will have his work cut out starting from the rear of the field in race three tomorrow.
It was a case of mixed fortunes for Mark King and Tony Karanfilovski – with both failing to finish the second race despite competing for the top-5 throughout race one and the majority of race two. Karanfilovski was en-route to another top 6 finish in race two; however a spin at turn three late in the race put his Ford Mustang out of contention.
Following an engine change this morning, championship-leader Andrew Miedecke started at the back of the pack in both races. Miedecke impressively picked his way through the field in the afternoon race after failing to finish the first heat with a distributor issue. Turning his first laps at Symmons Plains since 2005, Glenn Seton endured a tough day in his Thunder Road Racing Ford Mustang after suffering almost identical spins in both races at turn six.
Jim Richards’ crew appear to have resolved the throttle issues that plagued the Shannons Insurance pilot during qualifying – seeing the chequered flag in eighth place in race two.
After two races, Steven Johnson heads the ProMasters class ahead of Abelnica and Crick respectively. In the ProAm class, Brett Youlden leads the way from Jason Gomersall and Cameron Tilley, whilst Tony Hunter holds the ProSport ascendancy from Leo Tobin.
The Shannons Tasmania Tourist Trophy continues tomorrow with two more races on the program. The final race for championship points gets underway at 12.30pm local time, whilst the race four exhibition kicks off after the 84-lap V8 Supercar finale.