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18 June 2016 | General

JOHNSON WINS STUNNING DARWIN OPENER

A POWERFUL performance has seen Steven Johnson add his name to the ever-growing list of race winners in a stunning 2016 Touring Car Masters season.

The second-generation Ford hero powered his Synergy Race Engines Ford Falcon GTHO from third on the grid to the race lead by the first corner of today’s 10-lap Shannons Thunder in the Valley opener spending the rest of the race battling with old teammate John Bowe for the victory.

Bowe threw everything he could at Johnson in a classic Aussie Ford-versus-Holden fight but ultimately couldn’t work his way past the big Falcon: a car particularly strong down the long Hidden Valley front straight.

Bowe would continually attack through the tight section of Hidden Valley’ 2.87 kilometres only for Johnson to pull away down the long straight. It was Johnson’s third win at Hidden Valley and the 11th of his TCM career – but more importantly added his name to the list of six other drivers to have won in the championship this year.

It also equals the record for the most number of different winners in a single TCM season after just 10 races of this year’s ultra-competitive title fight.

Bowe finished second in his Wilson Security / Payce Torana spending his entire race either attacking Johnson or fending off long-time Touring Car / Supercar rival Glenn Seton.

Seton finished third today to continue his strong run of recent form an aggressive drive from fourth on the grid putting him in good stead for tomorrow’s two races.

The former two-time ATCC / Supercars champion is proving to be a model of consistency this year with today’s result his fourth third-place effort from the 10 races contested to date this year.

Jim Richards finished fourth and Tony Karanfilovski a superb fifth – first of the ProAm runners’ home – after several leading contenders removed themselves from contention late in the race.

One of them was Holden Torana A9X driver Jason Gomersall who started from the front row and looked a likely contender for victory before a gearbox issue saw him lose positions on the run to turn one.

With the car struggling to engage third gear Gomersall dropped from narrowly leading Bowe to end up fifth at the end of lap one.

The iSeek Racing driver quickly worked his way back towards the front of the field passing Eddie Abelnica on lap two and Seton on lap three to return to contention with leaders Johnson and Bowe. However the gearbox issue returned the following lap allowing Seton to re-pass the Torana to grab third place.

Gomersall then shaded Seton for a further three laps before he attempted an outside pass at turn one on the eighth lap – unfortunately spinning off the road having been unable to stop the car once past Seton.

Eddie Abelnica – fifth at the time – was caught up in the incident and dropped several spots while taking evasive action: Abelnica ultimately finishing sixth and Gomersall ninth.

Behind the leaders Andrew Fisher had a quiet race to seventh place in the Jesus Racing Falcon Mark King finished eighth in the King Springs Camaro and Wayne Mercer grabbed a solid 10th place (having been overtaken by a recovering Gomersall on the final lap) in his Falcon GTHO.

Only one driver failed to finish today’s 10-lap affair that was held in hot and extremely humid conditions.

Cameron Tilley retired his Valliant Pacer on the opening lap having earlier done the same after just three laps in qualifying.

The popular Sydneysider reported similar issues to those experienced in the opening round at the Clipsal 500 Adelaide relating to the engine of the six-cylinder Pacer.

The team will work this afternoon to rectify the issue and return to the circuit for tomorrow’s two final races that complete the Shannons Thunder in the Valley.

Both races will be shown live on FOX Sports with race two scheduled to start at 11:50am and race three – the Waeco trophy race following the Supercars race later in the afternoon.

RACE 1 RESULTS:

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Pos Car  Competitor/Team                Driver                   Vehicle              Cap   CL Laps     Race.Time Fastest...Lap1    17  Synergy Race Engines           Steve Johnson (QLD)      Ford Falcon XY GTHO  5800       10    12:28.8008   9 1:13.9786 2    18  Wilson Security/PAYCE          John Bowe (VIC)          Holden Torana SL/R 5 5047       10    12:29.5073   4 1:14.2301 3    30  Thunder Road Racing Team Austr Glenn Seton (QLD)        Ford Mustang Coupe   5000       10    12:29.7931   3 1:14.2773 4     2  Shannons Insurance             Jim Richards (VIC)       AMC Javelin          5898       10    12:30.5662   9 1:13.6479*5    88  TIFS - Warehousing & Distribut Tony Karanfilovski (NSW) Ford Mustang Trans A 5800       10    12:37.8409   6 1:14.7145 6    48  Darwin's Cheapest Cars         Eddie Abelnica (VIC)     Ford Falcon XB Coupe 5800       10    12:38.1947   3 1:13.8385 7     9  Jesus Racing                   Andrew Fisher (NSW)      Ford Falcon XY GTHO  5800       10    12:40.8299   7 1:14.8487 8    85  Whiteline Racing/King Springs  Mark King (QLD)          Chevrolet Camaro RS  5800       10    12:42.6260   4 1:15.2182 9    35  iseek Racing                   Jason Gomersall (QLD)    Holden Torana A9X    5000       10    12:43.6377   2 1:13.6575 10   74  Lyndways Builders              Wayne Mercer (VIC)       Ford Falcon XY GTHO  5800       10    12:47.5277   3 1:15.5739 11   21  Giraffe Civil Contracting      Greg Garwood (TAS)       Ford Capri Perana    5000       10    12:51.9010   4 1:15.8855 12    4  Skye Sands                     Rusty French (VIC)       Ford Mustang Fastbac 5800       10    12:53.0730   9 1:15.6951 13   95  Whiteline Racing/CAV Power     Bob Middleton (SA)       Chevrolet Camaro SS  5800       10    12:58.1868  10 1:16.1440 14   12  Giraffe Civil Contracting      Adam Garwood (TAS)       Holden Torana SL/R 5 5047       10    12:59.4077   9 1:15.6010 15   22  Aussie Muscle Car Run/PRT Fa   Nigel Benson (SA)        Holden Monaro GTS    5800       10    13:17.0714   8 1:18.1958 16   65  Cannon Trailers                Michael Cannon (QLD)     Ford Falcon XY GTHO  5800       10    13:20.4240   4 1:18.6677 17   43  Treloar Roses/Mick Wilson Plum Mick Wilson (VIC)        Ccrysler Charger RT  4390       10    13:47.9565   2 1:20.8519 18   19  Tincone Industrial Services    Darren Beale (QLD)       Holden Monaro GTS    5800        9    12:34.4657   6 1:18.9408 DNF  60  Glennan Transport/ANGLOMOIL Lu Cameron Tilley (NSW)     Valiant Pacer        4390        1     1:24.0175   1 1:24.0175