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14 June 2016 | General

STRONG GRID SET FOR THUNDER IN THE VALLEY

NOW A STAPLE of Darwin’s annual mid-winter motorsport festival at Hidden Valley Raceway the Touring Car Masters return to the CrownBet Triple Crown in the Top End this weekend.

The classic muscle and sports cars from the 1960s and 70s have been a key part of the annual Supercars trip to the territory each year since 2008 with this year representing the ninth straight visit to Hidden Valley.

The quick 2.8km circuit like many others on the TCM schedule has been a happy hunting ground for former Australian Touring Car Champion John Bowe with the current TCM points leader having won four of the eight rounds contested in Darwin.

He won the series’ initial visit in 2008 driving a Chevrolet Camaro and then won three straight Darwin rounds between 2012 and 2014 driving his iconic Ford Mustang nicknamed ‘Sally’.

However Bowe finished second last year to former Supercars teammate Steven Johnson who won the round in the Mustang while Bowe finished second.

The pair currently sit 1-2 in the 2016 standings with Bowe back in the Torana he raced last year and Johnson driving the Synergy Race Engines Falcon XY GTHO with grunt that should suit Hidden Valley’s long 1.1km main straight.

Bowe’s top-end history also showcases the remarkable evolution of Touring Car Masters’ machines.

His pole position time in 2008 was a 1m17.1849s lap while last year he powered his Holden Torana SL/R 5000 to the top spot on the grid with a scorching 1m12.3826s effort – a full five seconds improvement.

Bowe has scored pole seven of the eight times TCM has raced at Hidden Valley.

This year’s Touring Car Masters series has been the most competitive start to a season in series’ history with six different winners from the first nine races contested to date this year.

Greg Ritter Adam Garwood Jim Richards John Bowe Andrew Fisher and Glenn Seton have all won races this season – Seton the latest to add his name to the winners list thanks to a thrilling victory recently at Winton Raceway.

Johnson is yet to record a race win – consistency the key to his strong championship position.

Another driver who could challenge for a victory is Jason Gomersall – who will bring his brand-new 1978 Holden Torana A9X to Hidden Valley for the first time this week following a sensational debut at Winton in May.

The first two-door Torana to race in the category Gomersall was fastest in practice qualified second and finished second behind Bowe in the first two races of the Winton weekend in an impressive debut for the Matt Stone Racing-prepared Torana – a car that features a tribute livery to the iconic Peter Brock / Holden Dealer Team car that dominated at Bathurst in 1978/79.

The Hidden Valley field will see the return of several familiar faces to the TCM paddock for the first time this year.

Garry Treloar returns to the series driving a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS while fans of the Chrysler brand will enjoy Mick Wilson’s comeback in his hemi-powered Charger R/T. Nigel Benson returns to the wheel of his HQ Holden GTS 350 fellow Adelaidian Graham Stewart having driven the car for the start of the season.  

Meanwhile multiple Whiteline Racing will return to two cars for the first time since the season opening Clipsal 500 Adelaide with team owner Bob Middleton set to make a highly anticipated comeback in the team’s ’69 Camaro SS.

Middleton a multiple Australian Super Truck Champion and former NASCAR ace hasn’t raced in TCM for several seasons however will return to the track this weekend in the newly rebuilt Camaro – now back in its traditional bright yellow livery.

Two new names also feature on the Darwin entry list: Rob Burns set to make the debut of his Bendigo Retro Muscle Cars-prepared HQ GTS Monaro while Michael Cannon is entered in a Falcon GTHO.

The Shannons Thunder in the Valley will see the Touring Car Masters field tackle three races across the CrownBet Triple Crown weekend this weekend at Hidden Valley Raceway.

SHANNONS THUNDER IN THE VALLEY – ENTRY LIST

No Sponsor Name Ch Name Surname State Year Make Model Cap Colour
2 Shannons Insurance Jim Richards VIC 1972 AMC Javelin 5898cc Grey/Green
4 Skye Sands Rusty French VIC 1970 Ford Mustang Fastback 5800cc Black
8 Bendigo Retro Muscle Cars Rob Burns VIC 1972 Holden  Monaro GTS 5800cc Black
9 Jesus Racing Andrew Fisher NSW 1971 Ford Falcon XY GTHO 5800cc Grey/Red
12 Giraffe Civil Contracting Adam Garwood TAS 1974 Holden  Torana SL/R 5000 5047cc White
17 Synergy Race Engines Steve Johnson QLD 1971 Ford Falcon XY GTHO 5800cc White
18 Wilson Security / PAYCE John Bowe VIC 1974 Holden  Torana SL/R 5000 5047cc Red/White
19 Tincone Industrial Services Darren Beale QLD 1972 Holden  Monaro GTS Coupe 5800cc Orange
20 Treloar Roses Garry Treloar VIC 1968 Chevrolet Camaro SS 6000cc Blue
21 Giraffe Civil Contracting Greg Garwood TAS 1972 Ford Capri Perana 5000cc Blue
22 Aussie Muscle Car Run / PRT Fabrication Nigel Benson SA 1972 Holden  Monaro GTS Coupe 5800cc Silver/Orange
30 Thunder Road Racing Team Australia Glenn Seton QLD 1964 Ford Mustang Coupe 5000cc Black/Gold
35 iseek Racing  Jason Gomersall QLD 1978 Holden  Torana A9X Hatchback 5000cc Red/White/Black
43 Treloar Roses / Mick Wilson Plumbing Mick Wilson VIC 1972 Ccrysler Charger RT 4390cc Orange
46 THD Motorsport Leo Tobin VIC 1969 Ford Boss Mustang 5000cc Orange
48 Melbournes Cheapest Cars Eddie Abelnica VIC 1974 Ford Falcon XB Coupe 5800cc Red
60 Glennan Transport/ANGLOMOIL Lubricants Cameron Tilley NSW 1969 Valiant Pacer 4390cc Blue
65 Cannon Trailers Michael (Blu) Cannon QLD 1971 Ford Falcon XY GTHO 5800cc Red
74 Lyndways Builders Wayne Mercer VIC 1971 Ford Falcon XY GTHO 5800cc Light Blue
85 Whiteline Racing / King Springs Mark King QLD 1970 Chevrolet Camaro RS 5800cc Red/White
88 TIFS – Warehousing & Distribution Tony Karanfilovski NSW 1969 Ford Mustang Trans Am 5800cc Orange
95 Whiteline Racing / CAV Power Bob Middleton SA 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS 5800cc Yellow