28 November 2021 | General

How the TCM title battle can be won

EIGHT drivers head into the final round of the 2021 Gulf Western Oil Touring Car Masters series with a shot at winning the title at Mount Panorama this week.

With 200 points up for grabs across the TCM Trophy race and three full championship points scoring affairs to be held at Bathurst next week and eight of the top-10 drivers in the standings covered by just 179 markers, the fight to become champion is as wide open as it has ever been in Australia’s top national series for muscle cars.

Five-time TCM champion John Bowe leads the standings by just 10 points over Queenslander Ryan Hansford’s similar Holden Torana.

Marcus Zukanovic and Cameron Tilley are tied for third place, 37 points behind the championship leader, while reigning and three-time champion Steven Johnson sits fifth, some 58 points from the lead.

The Falcon is the last realistic contender with sixth-placed Ryal Harris not racing at Bathurst and seventh-placed Jim Pollicina 136 points off the lead.

The TCM points allocation for Bathurst is the same as every other round, with a total of 200 up for grabs across the Trophy Race and three championship events.

The mixed-grid Trophy Race pays 10 points for starting and 10 for finishing to every competitor, meaning there’s 20 points on the board straight away

Each Championship race then awards 60 points to the winner, 56 for second, 52 for third, 48 for fourth and 45 points for fifth place.

With all five title contenders expected to be towards the front of the field, it’s the battle between Bowe and Hansford likely to be the most intense.

For instance, and assuming all drivers score the full 20 points from the Trophy Race, if Hansford wins all three races with Bowe second, the Multispares Holden racer will grab the title by a scant two points.

However if Bowe wins even one race, the equation becomes more challenging even if Hansford wins the remaining pair – Bowe set to be able to follow his Torana-driving rival home in each and still claim the title.

The task for Zukanovic and Tilley is slightly more difficult: even if they win all three races (which neither driver is yet to achieve in their respective TCM careers), Bowe could afford to finish fifth in each race and still be champion by a tiny margin.

Johnson’s quest for a fourth-straight TCM crown can only have one approach: win all three races and hope the others finish down the order.

Should Bowe win the title it will be his sixth crown, while Johnson will be hoping to close the gap to his old teammate and friend with his fourth.

If Zukanovic, Tilley or Hansford claim the title they’ll become just the sixth different driver to claim a TCM title since the series was formed in 2007.

The title battle commences with practice and qualifying on Tuesday, 30 November at Mount Panorama ahead of the first race on Wednesday.

TCM Titles (outright only)

2007 – Steve Mason (Chevrolet Camaro SS)
2008 – Gavin Bullas (Ford Boss Mustang)
2009 – Gavin Bullas (Ford Boss Mustang)
2010 – Jim Richards (Ford Falcon Sprint)
2011 – John Bowe (Ford Mustang TransAm)
2012 – John Bowe (Ford Mustang TransAm)
2013 – Jim Richards (Ford Falcon Sprint)
2014 – John Bowe (Ford Mustang TransAm)
2015 – John Bowe (Ford Mustang TransAm / Holden Torana SL/R 5000)
2016 – John Bowe (Holden Torana SL/R 5000)
2017 – Steven Johnson (Ford Mustang TransAm)
2018 – Steven Johnson (Ford Mustang TransAm)
2019 – Steven Johnson (Ford Mustang TransAm)
2020 – Not contested