PREVIEW: Contenders stack up as Touring Car Masters returns to Sydney
THE search for a clear favourite in this year’s Gulf Western Oil Touring Car Masters series will be firmly on competitors minds when the series reaches its half-way point in Sydney this weekend.
Six different winners from seven races contested have highlighted an ultra-competitive start to the 2021 season that heads to Sydney Motorsport Park this weekend for the third of six rounds set for this year.
Already John Bowe, Marcus Zukanovic, Adam Garwood, Ryan Hansford, Ryal Harris and Cameron Tilley have greeted the flag first – with multiple and defending champion Steven Johnson, Andrew Fisher, Cameron Mason, Tony Karanfilovski, Mark King and the returning Adam Bressington all proven winners yet to taste success this year.
Bowe leads the standings thanks to consistent performances across the opening two rounds, however the man to beat could be Ryal Harris.
After missing the first round in Tasmania, the EFS Chevrolet Camaro driver stormed to victory in two of the three championship races at Mount Panorama last time out to claim his second career round victory.
His first in the category came in 2019 – at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Despite missing the season opener, Harris’ Bathurst success rocketed him to seventh in the championship.
After scoring his maiden TCM win in Tasmania, Marcus Zukanovic backed that up with his first overall round podium at Bathurst; the XD Falcon driver finishing second overall on the Mountain and holding the same position in the championship following the first two rounds.
Cameron Tilley holds down third in the championship thanks to a series of consistent performances – and a maiden victory – aboard his Valliant Pacer, while Ryan Hansford sits fourth.
The Queenslander has qualified second at both rounds held so far this year, and was a race winner at Bathurst last time out.
Steven Johnson sits fifth in the standings and is the first driver on the list yet to win a race this year; though his Full Throttle Custom Garages-backed Falcon continues to improve with every round.
This weekend marks the 14th visit to Sydney Motorsport Park by the Touring Car Masters grid, the most of any circuit to have hosted a championship round.
TCM last visited the Sydney venue in 2019 for a unique event that saw five races held on two different circuit layouts – including one at night.
This weekend will feature a more regular four-race format; three championship points-paying races and the always entertaining TCM Trophy Race on Saturday.
Adam Bressington’s return adds even more firepower to the grid, the former Pro-Am class champion a five-time TCM race winner and perennial frontrunner for Whiteline Racing.
In a change of scenery for the New South Wales driver, ‘bresso’ will drive the #85 1970 Camaro RS for the Adelaide team this weekend, while teammate Mark King remains aboard Bressington’s old car, the team’s 1969 Camaro SS.
The Sydney grid welcomes back Holden Torana driver Allan Hughes, and welcomes for the first time Victorian John Adams, who will make his TCM debut aboard a Ford Falcon XY GT.
Eight drivers on the Sydney entry list call New South Wales home.
The Sydney event is also the home round for the major series sponsor, Gulf Western Oil, who will have a large trackside presence this weekend.
Tickets are available online for the Sydney Motorsport Park event and can be pre-purchased online by clicking this link.
All TCM races will be broadcast live and free on the screens of Seven this weekend, with coverage on 7mate and 7plus across May 1-2.
ENTRY LIST – Round 3, Gulf Western Oil Touring Car Masters
|2||Northside Taxi Management||Allan||Hughes||QLD||PA||Holden||Torana||5000cc||White/Black/Red|
|6||Multispares Racing||Ryan||Hansford||QLD||PA||Holden||Torana A9X||5000cc||Yellow/Blue|
|7||MoCOMM Motorsport Comms||Jim||Pollicina||NSW||PM||Holden||Torana A9X||5000cc||White/Black/Red|
|9||Jesus Racing||Andrew||Fisher||NSW||PA||Ford||Falcon XY GT HO||5800cc||Red|
|12||The Lighthouse Hotel||Peter||Burnitt||QLD||PS||Holden||Torana A9X||6000cc||Black|
|17||Full Throttle Custom Garages||Steve||Johnson||QLD||PM||Ford||XD Falcon||5800cc||Tru Blue|
|18||PAYNTER DIXON / Payce||John||Bowe||VIC||PM||Holden||Torana SL/R 5000||5000cc||Black/White|
|29||Gulf Oil||Jamie||Tilley||NSW||PA||Ford||Mustang Coupe||5000cc||Black|
|33||Toronto Hotel||Cameron||Mason||NSW||PA||Ford||Mustang Trans Am||5800cc||Silver/Green|
|50||Motorsport Parts Australia||Gerard||McLeod||VIC||PA||Holden||VB Commodore||6000cc||White/Blue/Red|
|55||Bullet Trailers Racing Team||John||Adams||VIC||PA||Ford||Falcon XY GT||5800cc|
|58||EFS 4×4 accessories||Ryal||Harris||QLD||PM||Chevrolet||Camaro SS||5800cc||Red|
|67||Bilstein / JMG Racing||Jeremy||Gray||NSW||PA||Ford||Capri Perana||5000cc||Blue/White’|
|71||Action Motor Industries||Marcus||Zukanovic||VIC||PM||Ford||Falcon XD||5800cc||White/Blue|
|85||Whiteline Racing||Adam||Bressington||NSW||PM||Chevrolet||Camaro RS||5800cc||Yellow|
|88||TIFS Third Party Logistics||Tony||Karanfilovski||NSW||PA||Ford||Mustang Trans Am||5800cc||Orange|
|95||Whiteline Racing||Mark||King||QLD||PM||Chevrolet||Camaro SS||5800cc||Yellow|