‘Tru-Blu’ wins at Bathurst as Zukanovic robbed
Race one of the final round of the Gulf Western Oils Touring Car Masters was a thrilling all-Ford fight until a devastating tyre failure.
Victory went to Steve Johnson in his Full Throttle Custom Garage Ford Falcon XD – but only when fellow XD driver Marcus Zukanovic had a tyre failure after he had taken the lead in his Action Motor Industries Falcon.
RESULTS: Race 1
Johnson led the race from pole however was overhauled by a flying Zukanovic, who grabbed the lead with a pass on Conrod.
Two laps later, however, his right-front tyre exploded at almost the same point that he flew past his Falcon-driving rival, ruling him out of the race and returning the lead to car 17.
A similar disaster befell George Miedecke (Whiteline Racing Chev Camaro) just after he had taken third position off the Multispares Holden Torana A9X driven by Ryan Hansford.
Ultimately, Hansford finished a close second to Johnson while John Bowe (Torana) was third ahead of Adam Bressington (Camaro).
Small consolation for Zukanovic will be a new Touring Car Masters Bathurst lap record – his 2m16.2366s best eclipsing Johnson’s previous benchmark by 0.2 seconds.
Dean Lillee was next after starting his Torana at the back of the field and passed Cam Mason (Mustang) on the final lap.
Next was Jim Pollicina (Torana) from Cam Tilley (Valiant Pacer), Peter Burnitt (Torana) and Sven Burchatz (Porsche 911).
Miedecke was able to pit, the Whiteline Racing crew executing a rapid wheel change to enable him to finish a lap down.
The race took its toll with Jamie Tilley parking his Mustang before the start. Brad Tilley pulled his smokey Falcon XY GT off after Forrest Elbow, and Danny Buzadzic (Torana) was also sidelined early.
Tony Karanfilovski was another with a right front blowout. Then on the last lap an apparent front suspension issue put Andrew Fisher’s Falcon into the wall on top of the mountain.
Fisher climbed from the car under his own steam however his Jesus Racing Falcon was heavily damaged.
With two races to go to finish off the season Hansford holds a six-point lead over Bowe, while Johnson moves to a clear third in the championship, 50 points from the lead.
120 points remain up for grabs in the compelling TCM finale. Race two is scheduled for 8:55 am Thursday and will be shown live on Fox Sports and Kayo Sports.