JUST FIVE points separate John Bowe and Steven Johnson in the battle for the Touring Car Masters series, after Johnson slammed home an emphatic round victory at Mount Panorama this weekend.
Backing up his win in race two on Saturday, Johnson led from lights to flag to win the third race of the weekend in front of a packed house on a Bathurst Sunday morning.
The victory for car 17 perfectly came after Scott McLaughlin powered the ‘sister’ car from DJR Team Penske to pole for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 in Saturday’s Top-10 shootout.
Starting from pole, Johnson’s start wasn’t perfect – allowing Bowe to run alongside through turn one and up Mountain Straight.
Johnson asserted his lead into two, with Bowe and Bressington slotting in behind – though the battle continued through the opening lap.
Bowe attempted an outside move on Johnson at the Chase, allowing Bressington through when he ran wide after the attempted move at the left hander.
Bressington held second for the next several laps, before Bowe was able to slip through under brakes at the final corner and re-take second position.
Bowe chased Johnson hard, and re-set his own Bathurst lap record to 2m17.4462s to get to within 0.5 seconds of his old rival by the time the flag fell after six laps.
Adam Garwood was the next to move up the order, passing Bressington within the final two laps to grab third place – his best TCM race finish in a non-jumbled grid affair.
Eddie Abelnica finished fifth, taking advantage of a late race spin by Ryan Hansford at the Elbow to climb into the top five.
Andrew Fisher and Jim Richards battled for a majority of the race, Fisher getting his XY GTHO Falcon home in front of the seven-time Bathurst champion.
Brad Tilley moved from outside the top-10 to eighth place in a solid return for the green GTHO, while Tony Karanfilovski and Hansford completed the top-10.
Perhaps the battle of the race came from outside the top-10, with an enormous five car scrap between Cameron Tilley, Bruce Williams, Wayne Mercer, Geoff Fane and Rusty French thrilling fans.
Tilley ultimately scrapped through, while Williams’ charge from the back of the field was a strong return for the troubled AC Delco Torana after two horror races on Saturday.
French ultimately failed to finish the race after withdrawing his Skye Sands Mustang to pit lane on the penultimate lap.
With one round to go at the Coates Hire Newcastle 500, the Touring Car Masters series will go down the wire – with Bowe looking for his sixth individual TCM title and Jonson his first in what will be a winner-takes-all finale for both the overall pointscore and the ProMasters title.
Adam Bressington remains firmly in title contention, sitting 25 points behind the outright lead while at the same time holding down the top spot in the ProAm title race.
Ryan Hansford will be a mathematical chance at the title – 93 points from the lead – though may well focus on trying to beat Bressington for the ProAm title in Newcastle.
Adam Garwood has moved to fifth in the overall standings, in front of Eddie Abelnica, Jason Gomersall, Cameron Mason and Tony Karanfilovski.
Darren Beale continues to lead the ProSports title heading into the final round in Newcastle.
*Series points are provisional
RACE 3 RESULTS
Pos Car Competitor/Team Driver Vehicle Cap CL Laps Race.Time Fastest...Lap
1 17 Synergy Race Engines Steve Johnson (QLD) 1971 Ford Falcon XY 5800 6 13:48.7122 5 2:17.6677
2 18 Wilson Security / PAYCE John Bowe (VIC) Holden Torana SL/R 5047c 6 13:49.2784 5 2:17.4462R
3 12 Giraffe Civil Contracting Adam Garwood (TAS) Holden Torana A9X 5000c 6 13:54.3325 2 2:18.2736
4 95 Whiteline Racing / Fabre Austr Adam Bressington (NSW) Chevrolet Camaro SS 5800c 6 13:55.2295 4 2:18.0381
5 48 Melbourne's Cheapest Cars Eddie Abelnica (VIC) Ford Falcon XB Coupe 5800c 6 13:55.2312 4 2:18.2446
6 9 Jesus Racing Andrew Fisher (NSW) Ford Falcon XY GT HO 5800c 6 14:07.2112 3 2:19.9820
7 2 Shannons Insurance Jim Richards (VIC) Ford Falcon Sprint 5000c 6 14:07.3003 2 2:19.9206
8 28 Speedgas / Tilley Auto Garage Brad Tilley (NSW) Ford Falcon XY GT HO 5800c 6 14:15.8872 4 2:20.4600
9 88 TIFS - Warehousing & Distribut Tony Karanfilovski (NSW) Ford Mustang Trans A 5800c 6 14:17.7113 4 2:21.5879
10 6 Multispares Racing Ryan Hansford (QLD) Holden Torana SL/R 5000c 6 14:17.8233 3 2:18.4547
11 25 Maxi-Trans Trailers Paul Freestone (VIC) Chevrolet Camaro 5800c 6 14:35.8264 6 2:24.5588
12 60 Glennan Transport/ANGLOMOIL Lu Cameron Tilley (NSW) Valiant Pacer 4390c 6 14:36.0500 5 2:23.9317
13 5 ACDelco Bruce Williams (VIC) Holden Torana SL/R 5000c 6 14:37.1032 6 2:22.6271
14 74 Lyndways Builders Wayne Mercer (VIC) Ford Falcon XY GTHO 5800c 6 14:39.7854 5 2:25.4556
15 72 GFR Industries Geoff Fane (QLD) Chevrolet Camaro SS 5800c 6 14:49.3821 3 2:24.8383
16 46 THD Motorsport Leo Tobin (VIC) Ford Boss Mustang 5000c 6 14:52.2722 6 2:25.7803
17 97 Johns Furniture Removals Allen Boughen (QLD) Mercury Comet 4736c 6 14:53.6145 6 2:26.8922
18 19 Tincone Industrial Services Darren Beale (QLD) Holden Monaro GTS C 5800c 6 15:24.9632 6 2:30.2748
19 91 Performance 9 / Werks Garage Stan Adler (QLD) Porsche 911 IROC 3600c 6 15:59.6097 3 2:35.6534
DNF 4 Skye Sands Rusty French (VIC) Ford Mustang Fastbac 5800c 5 12:16.4981 3 2:24.5572
DNF 85 Whiteline Racing / King Spring Mark King (QLD) Holden Monaro GTS C 5800c 4 9:34.8444 3 2:21.8138
DNF 1 Hawk Brake Pads Dave Roberts (USA) Chevrolet Camaro SS 5800c
2hr 18min 00.9sec