KEY QUEENSLAND ROUND CRITICAL IN TCM TITLE RACE
Jul 22, 2019
HE’S WON the last two championship titles and swept all before him so far in 2019 – but Steven Johnson still has plenty of boxes to tick when the Paynter Dixon Touring Car Masters series hits Queensland Raceway this weekend.
The TCM field returns to the Century Batteries Ipswich SuperSprint for the fourth round, and races 10, 11 and 12 of the 2019 championship with plenty on the line.
QUEENSLAND ROUND DETAILS, SCHEDULE, ENTRY LIST: CLICK HERE
Four will be the number on Johnson’s mind as he not only seeks to extend his 114-point series lead over Adam Bressington, but also attempts to win his fourth consecutive round.
No driver in the history of the championship has ever won four straight rounds; Johnson amongst a group of just three drivers to have achieved a trifecta of round victories.
Double champion Gavin Bullas achieved the feat once, while Johnson – both last season and in his current streak – has done it twice. John Bowe scored a hat-trick of overall victories on three occasions, yet was never able to convert the fourth.
This weekend marks the half-way point of the championship with plenty to play for and contenders lining up in ranks to be the first to beat Johnson in a championship race this year.
Queensland Raceway has a track record of producing compelling Touring Car Masters action with the last three rounds at the venue having been won by three different drivers.
Four different drivers have scored the last four pole positions at the circuit while the series’ last visit in 2017 saw three drivers – Adam Garwood, John Bowe and Eddie Abelnica – share the race wins.
On paper, Johnson’s 2019 campaign has been nearly perfect, having scored pole position at each of the three rounds so far. He’s also won the eight championship races contested to date; only being beaten in the mixed-grid Dometic Trophy Races that, thanks to the grid inversion, see him starting from the back.
However, the competition has been closer than the record books suggest with Johnson challenged at every round so far.
Tiny pole margins at Winton and Phillip Island and consistent in-race pressure from key rivals have ensured that it has been no walkover.
Five different drivers have finished second to Johnson this season while six have finished championship points-paying races on the podium so far.
Whiteline Racing’s Adam Bressington remains Johnson’s closest challenger and has five podium finishes to his credit this season to date.
However while he trails Johnson by 114 points, second through sixth in the championship remain tightly bunched.
Five-time champ John Bowe sits third in the standings, just nine points behind Bressington, while TCM rookie Ryal Harris is fourth overall. Jim Pollicina leads the ProAm class and is fifth outright while Bruce Williams – in sixth – is just 84 points out of second outright.
Cameron Mason, Ryan Hansford, Cameron Tilley and Marcus Zukanovic complete the top-10 in the championship – filled by four different brands and six different models.
Johnson leads a 26-strong field to Queensland, one of the strongest grids of the season.
Local hero Allen Boughen (Mercury Comet), Ben Dunn (Chevrolet Monza), Geoff Fane (Camaro SS), Guy Gibbons (Holden Monaro GTS) all return to the series this weekend.
Jason Gomersall is another back on the grid – his last start came in Adelaide – aboard his popular Torana A9X Hatch while Adam Garwood returns for his second scheduled outing in the Whiteline Racing Camaro RS he raced to four, third-placed finishes at Winton.
Two drivers will make their respective Paynter Dixon Touring Car Masters debuts this weekend; Production Car racer Karl Begg will drive the Jim Pollicina-owned Holden Torana A9X, while Queenslander Allan Hughes will also make his debut in a Torana SL/R 5000.
The round will also see the highly anticipated debut of a brand-new 1969 Ford Mustang to be driven by Cameron Mason.
Crafted over an extended period by Marty Brandt and Garage1 in Melbourne, the car carries a livery – and number – in tribute to Touring Car great Allan Moffat’s famous ‘Brut #33’ Mustang raced in the early 1970s.
Meanwhile, Aaron Seton will make his second TCM start and first on home soil this weekend at a venue where his dad, Glenn, won in 2016.
The addition of Sven Burchartz’ Porsche 911 RS, Rob Hackwood’s Pontiac Firebird and the return of Boughen’s Mercury takes to seven the number of brands – and 13 the number of different models - represented on the grid this weekend. 11 Queenslanders are entered for their home-town event.
Despite recent successful surgery following a diagnosis of testicular cancer, local hero Ryan Hansford remains a potential starter this weekend.
Hansford underwent an operation to remove his right testicle (Click here for story) on July 4, however Multispares Racing will wait until the last moment to assess his ability to race before deciding if they require a replacement driver.
Hansford finished second overall at Queensland Raceway on the series’ last visit.
The fourth round of the 2019 Paynter Dixon Touring Car Masters series will again be contested over four races, commencing on Friday afternoon with the Dometic Trophy Race over nine laps.
Races 10 and 11 of the 2019 championship will be contested on Saturday, with Race 12 set for Sunday.
Qualifying and all four races will be shown live on FOX Sports 506 and KAYO Sports.Return