Johnson smashes Symmons record to grab pole
STEVEN JOHNSON has picked up where he left off in the Gulf Western Oil Touring Car Masters, destroying Symmons Plains’ existing qualifying record to take pole for Round 1 of the 2023 championship.
Having dominated the final two rounds of the 2022 series – winning seven of the last eight races – Johnson and the #33 Ford Mustang needed just five laps to secure pole position for the first stop on the 2023 tour.
His 55.2985s flyer was 0.9 seconds quicker than the existing Symmons Plains qualifying benchmark, set by John Bowe in 2018.
It was Johnson’s 21st TCM pole position and his second at the iconic Tasmanian circuit, his first in TCM and at the venue coming on his category debut here in 2015.
The man Johnson usurped for the qualifying record was second, Bowe’s 55.6847s best just 0.38s behind his former teammate and long-time family friend – and also beneath his old record.
The pair will line up on the front row tomorrow with Mustang and Torana side-by-side.
Andrew Fisher qualified third in his Jesus Racing Torana, while Danny Buzadzic was a career-best fourth in his Western General A9X.
On his TCM return, Marcus Zukanovic was a solid fifth in his XD Falcon – the Victorian continuing to adapt to having to brake with his left foot after braking his right leg badly last year.
Defending champion Ryan Hansford could manage no better than sixth position in his Multispares Racing Torana after the car strangely broke a differential in the sole practice session, putting the Queensland team behind the eight ball from the outset.
Cameron Tilley was seventh in the Valiant Pacer, ahead of Tasmanian driver Adam Williams in his Holden Torana and Pete Burnitt.
The Touring Car Masters Series launches straight into racing tomorrow, with the mixed-grid Trophy Race launching the racing at AWC Race Tasmania tomorrow.
The first championship race of the season follows later on the day. Both races will be broadcast live on Stan Sport, with the latter also on the Nine Network.