Five things to watch: Gulf Western Oil Touring Car Masters
THE GULF Western Oil Touring Car Masters Series launches back into a new season this weekend at AWC Race Tasmania at Symmons Plains.
There’s a host of storylines to follow as the new season commences and Ryan Hansford commences his title defence.
Who will come out on top? Make sure you’re following via Stan Sport and the Nine Network around Australia this weekend.
BIG BLOCK VERSUS SMALL
SYMMONS PLAINS has always been described as a pair of drag strips split by a few tight corners, and that lines up when it comes to TCM action at the circuit.
17 out of 19 races held at the venue have been won by six-litre cars at Symmons and despite weight in numbers, there’s a very good chance that the smaller capacity cars could be out-grunted (it’s a thing) this weekend by the big capacity cars driven by Steven Johnson and Marcus Zukanovic.
Torana’s have been on pole the last two years the series raced in Tassie, but when it comes to the racing Symmons Plains really is the example of ‘There’s no substitute for cubic inches’.
Also worth noting for this weekend is some competitors having to go back to older engines this weekend.
Ryan Hansford is running an older-spec five litre Chev in his Torana, while Cam Tilley has reverted to his older-spec Iron block engine for this weekend.
THE Z MAN RETURNS
JUST as Marcus Zukanovic was turning a corner in his TCM career, things went awry.
He’d scored a stunning win at Symmons Plains – the first in an XD Falcon – and another at Bathurst and things were looking positive.
Then an unfortunate incident at work saw him break his leg, badly, forcing him out of the 2022 season.
It’s likely to be a tentative return for the Victorian, however there’s every chance it won’t take long for the competitive juices to flow once again.
JOHNSON v BOWE
IT seems strange that this could be the last year we see the Johnson-versus-Bowe battle that has characterised Touring Car Masters for the better part of six years.
JB is just as quick and as feisty as ever, and Johnson’s impressive form at the end of last season as he got the Russ Hancock-owned Mustang hooked up – with a lot of pre-event testing help from Bowe himself, ironically – means the pair should be evenly matched this year.
It could be quite a fight for JB’s final fling.
ANDREW Fisher was one of the standout performers last season as he got to grips with the Torana that he leased from Jim Pollicina.
The Jesus Racing driver was in superb touch with a string of impressive podium finishes across Townsville, Bathurst and Adelaide, plus a pole position on the Mountain that he will long remember.
Heading into his second season in the Torry, could this be Fisher’s first proper full-on title tilt in TCM? Late season form last year indicates it could well be.
OF the many great stories last year, Danny Buzadzic winning his first TCM race in the Townsville Trophy Encounter was one of the best.
The grin on his face following his success was contagious and then he went and backed it up again at Sandown a few weeks later.
And then there’s three Tassie ring-ins: Improved Production runners Adam Williams (Torana) and Matthew Carey (Commodore).
3. Western General Body Works Danny Buzadzic Holden Torana A9X
6. Multispares Racing Ryan Hansford Holden Torana A9X
15. Jesus Racing Andrew Fisher Holden Torana A9X
18. Rare Spares /PAYNTER DIXON / Local Legends John Bowe Holden Torana SL/R 5000
33. Hancock Racing Steven Johnson Ford Mustang Trans Am
60. Anglomoil Superior Lubricants Cameron Tilley Valiant Pacer
12. Depulu Wheel Reconditioners Gold Coast Peter Burnitt Holden Torana A9X
71. R&J Batteries Marcus Zukanovic Ford Falcon XD
75. Williams Outdoor Adam Williams Holden Torana
4. STP / Roadways Matthew Carey Holden Commodore