24 November 2021 | General

Hansford primed for TCM title fight

Gulf Western Oil Touring Car Masters title contender Ryan Hansford said he ‘can’t wait’ to get on track at Mount Panorama next week and battle John Bowe for the championship.

Hansford and his Multispares Holden Torana team trail the five-time champion by just 10 points and is arguably the form driver in the series.

Hansford scored pole, won two of the three races and the round when the series last raced, at Sydney Motorsport Park in April, and the Queenslander says he is ready to continue that form into the final round.

“I’m pretty excited to be going down there to finish the championship, win or lose,” Hansford said.

“It’s great that we can get down there and get it done. I’ve been really happy with the car and I feel like we’re all in good form. Barring any failures or mistakes, I think we’re in a good spot to win it.”

With Bathurst 1000 legend John Bowe his closest rival, Hansford said he was looking forward to battling one of the sport’s most successful drivers – especially one with some family history.

“It’s pretty funny but my first memory of John Bowe is actually him pinching my dad’s drive in the Sierra at the end of 1987!” Ryan laughed.

Gregg Hansford was replaced by Bowe at Dick Johnson Racing at the end of the 1987 season, the latter going on to win a championship and two Bathurst 1000 victories with the famous Queensland team.

Hansford senior would later link with Larry Perkins’ team and win the Great Race in 1993.

“It’s exciting and a bit of an honour at the same time. We get on well but I’m sure he’s just as keen as I am to win it. I’m not going to back down from the challenge,” Ryan said of racing Bowe.

“I think it’s incredible he’s still as competitive as he is and I hope I am still that fast when I get to that point in my career.”

Hansford said the annual trip to the Mountain – which will be the second time the series has visited this year – remains a racing highlight.

“I love going to Bathurst,” he added.

“There’s so much history there with the family, with dad (the late Greg Hansford) winning on two wheels and four, the 1000 and the 12-Hour, so it’s good to just hang out there and be with the people. It’s laid back and casual and a beautiful spot.

“And of course it’s an amazing track. Every time you go across the top it takes your breath away and the first time you come out of the Elbow and head down the chute, it feels like you’re flying.”

The form of the Multispares team has been one of the notable factors within the TCM competition across the last few seasons, a major turnaround in form coming following a challenging 2019 season.

“At the end of 2019 we sat down as a team, with Multispares and our sponsors, and worked out what we needed to do better,” he explained.

“We worked hard on the program and getting the car tuned to look after it’s tyres. Brett Peters did a lot of the work and was instrumental in testing it and giving his feedback.

“We unlocked a lot in the car and now we have a really good all-round package. It’s fast and it looks after our tyres. We have a great engine, too, from Cragsted Engines who do a great job,

“It’s a good platform and we’re fast wherever we go.”

Hansford and the remainder of the 20-strong Gulf Western Oil Touring Car Masters team will hit the track on Thursday for practice and qualifying, ahead of four races to decide the 2021