3 March 2022 | General

Sydney history points to competitive TCM weekend

SYDNEY MOTORSPORT PARK has become something of a happy hunting ground for the Gulf Western Oil Touring Car Masters Series. 

This weekend will see the series visit for the 14th time, breaking a three-way tie with the Adelaide Street Circuit and Mount Panorama, Bathurst for the crown as TCM’s most-raced circuit.

Uniquely, TCM has raced on three of the four available layouts at the Western Sydney venue, though this weekend will see them revert to the classic 3.9km ‘Gardner GP’ layout used most times the series has visited.

With a strong Sydney contingent playing a role in TCM since the category was founded, the class first raced at the circuit (then known as Eastern Creek) in 2007 in a round ultimately won by would-be champion, Steve Mason.

Since then the venue has seen remarkably balanced competition between the TCM brands, with Chevrolet winning on five occasions, Ford’s Mustang six times and Holden’s Torana on two occasions – most recently with Ryan Hansford and his Multispares entry from Queensland twelve months ago.

TCM legend John Bowe, of course, dominates the winners list with five round wins to his name – though the last four events at the circuit have all been won by different drivers.

Fast, flowing and hard on tyres, Sydney Motorsport Park is one of the best circuits regularly on the calendar to showcase the evolution of the TCM machinery over the history of the class.

Mason’s pole time on the category’s debut was a 1m47.01s best, which was quickly trumped by John Bowe two years later as he punched out a 1m42.96s best to take his second of what would be a run of nine consecutive pole positions at the circuit – a feat not achieved elsewhere in TCM history.

Ten years later, Bowe’s run of nine poles in a row ended with a 1m39.86s best, while Ryan Hansford’s qualifying record set last year – a flying 1m38.7225s best – is some nine seconds per lap faster than Mason’s time when TCM first appeared.

Last year’s visit to Sydney was an interesting one: three different drivers won the four races and the weekend hailed the proper arrival of Steven Johnson’s Full Throttle Custom Garage XD Falcon to the TCM party.

After a long developmental process, Johnson missed pole by seven-hundredths of a second and then chased Hansford home in the first race.

Jim Pollicina won the Trophy Race, Hansford the second points-paying race before Johnson came through to win the finale’ – the first for the big blue Ford.

Hansford won the round – his first – ending his run of seven podiums without an overall victory which, at the time, was a record for the class.

Others worth watching out for this weekend include Jamie Tilley, who has been continually impressive in his brief TCM stint but especially so at Sydney Motorsport Park.

He placed third and second, respectively, in the first two points-paying series races in Sydney last year showing he is a regular threat to the more established names on his home circuit.

TCM will tackle four races this weekend at the Beaurepaires Sydney SuperNight event at Sydney Motorsport Park – click here for the schedule. 

Practice and all four races will be broadcast live on Fox Sports and Kayo Sports.