John Bowe and Steven Johnson split the Sunday race wins in round three of the Touring Car Masters this weekend in Darwin – but it was Johnson who came out on top in the Top End. The Team Johnson driver won the ProMasters class at Hidden Valley, the first win for Team Johnson, despite finishing second behind Bowe in race two.
Eddie Abelnica finished second in the class while John Bowe finished third – his DNF in the Trophy Race on Saturday costing him points. Bruce Williams won the ProAm class ahead of Adam Bressington and Adam Garwood, while Robert Braune won the ProSport class in Darwin on his debut in the category – Blu Cannon and Leo Tobin completing the podium.
Steven Johnson won his first win of the 2017 Touring Car Masters season, defeating John Bowe in a 10-lap shootout in the Territory on Sunday morning. The pair were never split by less than one second throughout the distance, caught up in their own battle for the lead as the rest of the pack warred over the remaining positions in the top-10.
Johnson led all the way from pole position to record the first win for Team Johnson since joining the category this year, and becoming the fifth different winner of the season in the process. Bowe finished second after breaking a gearbox in the Wilson Security / PAYCE Torana during yesterday’s Trophy Race.
The Torana was quicker through Hidden Valley’s twists but couldn’t pass Johnson’s Mustang in the key overtaking opportunity at turn one – despite having several half-looks throughout the race.
Jason Gomersall finished third in the BigMate Racing Torana, but that only came after a race of resolute defence from several leading Touring Car Masters contenders. He held out Bruce Williams for the first half of the race, and then had to deal with the supremely quick Melbourne’s Cheapest Cars Falcon XB Coupe’ for the remaining four laps, edging out the big red Ford at the line.
With Abelnica fourth, Williams finished fifth and Adam Garwood sixth in a strong performance for his Torana – now sporting Chev power this weekend.
Adam Bressington started third in his Whiteline Racing / Fabre Camaro but a slow start saw him slip to eighth by the end of the opening lap – recovering one position to seventh by the race finish. Trophy race winner Greg Garwood worked his way through the field to finish eighth in the Ford Capri Perana, while Ryan Hansford finished ninth in the Multispares Torana.
Hansford, who has had his power steering fail twice this weekend and raced yesterday without it, had run as high as seventh in the opening stages of the race before ominous smoke began trailing from the Holden mid-race, slipping two spots as he limped to the line. In a sensational drag-race to the line, Cameron Tilley’s six-cylinder Hemi Pacer edged out Cameron Mason’s V8-powered Ford Mustang by 0.0053s to grab the final spot in the top-10.
Tony Karanfilovski was the only non-finisher, a reported gearbox seal causing the TIFS Warehousing Mustang to leak fluid, officials calling him to pit-lane at the end of the second lap.
John Bowe struck back to beat Steven Johnson to the line in race three at Hidden Valley. Though Johnson raced to an early lead from pole position, Bowe continued to stalk the Mustang throughout the race, pouncing with a move at turn one on the seventh lap – before ultimately pulling away to take the race victory – the 89th of his TCM career.
However, his non-finish in the Trophy Race ensured that the round win went the way of Johnson. Bowe pulled away to win the race over Johnson and Eddie Abelnica, who was the beneficiary of light contact between Bruce Williams and Jason Gomersall mid-race.
The pair of Torana’s were battling for the final spot in the top three when contact at turn five saw Gomersall off the road – ultimately finishing 10th. As Williams recovered from the moment, Abelnica powered past and would match the pace of the leaders in the closing stages before grabbing the final spot in the top three.
Williams finished fourth while Bressington improved to fifth after wheel spin at the start dropped him down the order in race two. A power steering-less Ryan Hansford was sixth, while Adam Garwood, Greg Garwood, Jim Richards and Gomersall completed the top-10.
Cameron’s Tilley (11th) and Mason (12th) continued their battles throughout the race, with Wayne Mercer, Tony Karanfilovski (from the back of the grid) and Robert Braune completing the first fifteen home.
Arguably the most popular move of the day came from the car last home in the 10-lap race – a massive, smoky burnout from Allen Boughen whilst recovering from a spin delighting the Territorian fans.
The next round of the Touring Car Masters series will mark a return to Queensland Raceway alongside the Supercars at the Coates Hire Ipswich Supersprint event on July 28th-30th.