TCM IN TASSIE: JOHNSON, FORDS AND BIG ENGINES
Apr 5, 2018
THE PAYNTER DIXON Touring Car Masters series returns to Tasmania for the first time in three years this weekend.
The series has not visited the 2.4km circuit outside of Launceston since 2015, with their last last visit prior to that way back in 2010.
TCM first visited Tasmania during its inaugural season, when Gavin Bullas won all three races en route to the round win.
John Bowe won on subsequent visits in 2008 and 2010, while the series’ next trip to the Apple Isle was the start of something big: The start of Steven Johnson’s run to the title.
The 2015 trip is essentially what started Steven Johnson on his pathway to ultimately winning the championship last year in his WM Waste Management Ford Mustang.
Johnson made his TCM debut when he filled in for John Bowe, who was overseas at a sponsor’s conference, driving exactly the same car at Symmons Plains in 2015.
There, Johnson qualified on pole position in what was then Bowe’s Mustang and stormed to victories in each of the three championship races – and a special, demonstration event held at the end of the day – to kickstart his TCM tally.
It was his first race win, round win, pole position and lap record in his time racing in TCM.
Of course, that set things in motion for Johnson to join the series on a nearly full-time basis in 2016 driving a Falcon GTHO and ultimately led to the creation of Team Johnson the following year.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Bowe, Bullas and Johnson are the only drivers to have won races at Symmons Plains.
Johnson’s victories continued a remarkable winning streak for Ford at the circuit, with the Blue Oval having lost only one of twelve races successfully completed at the venue.
Gavin Bullas has won five times there, John Bowe powered his Mustang to two victories while Johnson has four to his credit from the last time the series visited.
Tasmanians are fond of their Horsepower and it shows in the design of their circuit – essentially three straights joined by a couple of tricky turns.
As such, Symmons Plains is a haven for the big-capacity cars that are a staple of Touring Car Masters with every single race, round and pole position at the venue having been won by a car with an engine capacity of over 5700cc.
Only once has a car with an engine capacity of less than 4900cc managed to scrape onto a race podium at the venue: of course, that car is the remarkable six-cylinder Hemi Valliant Pacer of Cameron Tilley. He finished third in the final points-paying race of the 2015 event proving that while yes, there is no substitute for cubic inches, sometimes plain hard driving can still do the job!
This weekend will see the Paynter Dixon Touring Car Masters series contest four races at Symmons Plains, with all four and qualifying on Friday to be broadcast live on FOX Sports 506.
Check out the 'season 2018' page for the full schedule this weekend.Return