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17 February 2015 | General

PREVIEW: BUMPER GRID READY FOR TCM SEASON OPENER

ADELAIDE race fans are in for something special when the ENZED Touring Car Masters grid hits the track at the Clipsal 500 next week.

A capacity 35-car field of classic muscle and sports cars spanning 1964 to 1976 has entered for the opening round of the season at the famous Adelaide parklands circuit – and it’s one that will truly live up to the ‘masters’ title.

RACE DETAILS: Event schedule & entry list.

In what has become something of a late 1980s Australian Touring Car Championship ‘class reunion’ five of the sports best known names from the era will again compete head-to-head this year.

Double ATCC / V8 Supercars champion Glenn Seton will race a Ford Mustang this season and joins defending TCM Champion John Bowe (Ford Mustang) hero to all Jim Richards (AMC Javelin) Open-wheel and Touring car ace Andrew Miedecke (Chevrolet Camaro) and one of Tasmania’s favourite son’s – Greg Crick (Chrysler Charger) on the grid this season.

Bowe returns to defend his 2014 title driving his popular 1969 Ford Mustang Trans Am nicknamed ‘Sally’ while both Miedecke and Crick won rounds last season in their respective Camaro and Charger rides.

The Clipsal 500 will make the return of Jim Richards’ hugely popular Javelin following a lengthy rebuild while Seton’s 1964 Ford Mustang may be nearly the oldest model in the field – but is expected to be no less competitive with the Ford legend behind the wheel.

Looking to unseat the ‘famous five’ are a host of extremely competitive drivers steering extremely competitive cars adding up to the deepest TCM grid ever assembled.

Double Touring Car Masters champion Gavin Bullas will make his highly-anticipated return to the series at the Clipsal 500 aboard a freshly prepared Ford Mustang coupe. The Melbournian has only raced intermittently in the last two seasons but remains one of the most successful exponents of TCM racing and will be looking to challenge for another title this year.  

Also returning are six drivers who all starred at various points of the 2014 season.

Mark King (Camaro) Keith Kassulke (Ford Falcon XB Coupe) Tony Karanfilovski (Ford Mustang) Brett Youlden (Holden HQ Monaro Coupe) Eddie Abelnica (Ford Falcon XB Coupe) and Jason Gomersall (Holden Torana SL/R 5000) will all return this season and all are expected to feature towards the pointy-end of the grid.

Having made an impressive debut in the final two rounds of last year’s championship Jesus Racing’s Andrew Fisher will line-up for his maiden tilt at the TCM title this year in a Ford Falcon GTHO recently rebuilt and refurbished ahead of the New Year.

Meanwhile Queenslander Ian Palmer will help add another new brand to the TCM field the long-anticipated debut of his Pontiac Firebird set to be a wildly popular addition to the grid.

Young star Cameron Mason returns in his 1966 Ford Shelby Mustang after a series of strong top-five performances throughout the 2014 season the Sydney driver ready to use a year’s worth of experience to challenge at the pointy end regularly this year.

Tony Hunter’s Chevrolet Monza and a brand-new 1964 Ford Mustang for the ever-popular Brad Tilley are likely to prove popular additions to the grid this season.

The remarkable field includes representation from AMC Ford Holden Chevrolet Pontiac Porsche Chrysler and Valliant with a host of different models representing each marque.

Holden’s hopes are driven by the SL/R 5000 LH Torana and the HQ Monaro GTS 350 while Chevrolet has the Monza and both 1969 and 1970-era Camaro’s in their arsenal.

The American Motor Corp’s Javelin Pontiac’s Firebird the six-cylinder Valliant Pacer and V8 Chrysler Charger are sole representatives from their respective brands and will all be lining up to battle the Ford hordes.

Mustangs from several different eras are represented plus Australian-made metal like Ford’s GTHO XA Sedan and XB coupe’ are also on the list.

South Australian’s feature strongly on the TCM grid with six locals amongst the 35 entries.

Husband and wife Porsche team Greg Keene and Amanda Sparks will continue their Porsche battle to be joined by fellow 911 drivers Rory O’Neill and Graeme Cook.

Nigel Benson returns in his popular Holden Monaro while Graham Stewart will make his TCM debut in a Chevrolet Camaro.  

Meanwhile Bob and Sharyn Middleton’s Adelaide-based Whiteline Racing outfit will again prepare the Chevy Camaros to be driven by Andrew Miedecke and Mark King.

The ENZED Touring Car Masters series presented by Rare Spares and Shannons Insurance will tackle three races across the Clipsal 500 program the first of eight TCM events this season.

Every session will be shown live as part of FOX Sports comprehensive coverage of all V8 Supercars events this season with further TV details to be announced.