March 4, 2016 | General


GREG RITTER has charged from third on the grid to win the opening race of the 2016 Touring Car Masters season the first victory for a Chevrolet Monza in the series’ history.

In just his fourth ever TCM race start Ritter had to battle his way to the front of the grid through some of the sport’s biggest names as he first passed Glenn Seton on the start and then John Bowe two laps later to take a lead he would ultimately never lose.

Having earlier beaten John Bowe to pole by the closest margin in TCM history – 0.06s – polesitter Seton was slow away from the rolling start in his Thunder Road Racing Ford Mustang forcing Ritter to take evasive action and swerve hard right in avoidance.

A breathtaking slide towards the pit wall allowed him to pass the slower Ford before turn one and gain a position.

Then running second he pressured Bowe across the opening lap before slicing nicely up the inside a lap later to take the lead at turn four.

A Safety Car was called soon after Ritter assumed the lead when Tony Karanfilovski clipped the tyre bundles at turn one.

The impact immediately broke the steering on his Ford Mustang spearing it into the tyre bundles at the famous turn one-two-three chicane and out of the race with damage to the left front corner.

Once the race resumed Ritter controlled it from the outset and was able to lead Bowe and Seton home to record his first win in a slightly shortened affair.

Just off the podium Jim Richards continued his consistent opening round of the championship and finished fourth in the Shannons AMC Javelin one place ahead of Eddie Abelnica’s XB Falcon. Steven Johnson raced his way into the top six in the Falcon GTHO just latching on to the rear of the leading group of five at the end of the shortened race.

Paul Freestone stormed from 12th on the grid to 7th at the finish in his Freetsones Transport Chevrolet Camaro: the Victorian the biggest mover of the eight-lap race thanks mainly to a storming opening lap. Mark King Andrew Miedecke and Jason Gomersall completed the top-10.

The father-son combo of Adam and Greg Garwood finished 11th and 12th respectively Garwood Snr improving from 21st on the grid in the debut of the Ford Capri Perana in TCM competition.

Only three failed to finish the race: Karanfilovski after his crash Wayne Mercer after a spin – following contact at turn 14 – and Cameron Tilley in the popular Valliant Pacer.

An unknown oil leak / surge issue on the popular Chrysler product has seen it complete minimal laps this weekend much to the frustration of the Sydney driver and his small team.

Earlier in the day a thrilling for the first pole position of the 2016 Touring Car Masters season has gone the way of Glenn Seton by the smallest of margins.

Bowe had laid down an impressive 1m28.39s lap late in the session the time a full 1s underneath the existing TCM qualifying record – already held by Bowe – on the Adelaide parklands circuit.

Having banked the lap Bowe pitted his Wilson Security / Pace Torana content with his effort but the last gasp charge from Seton saw him edge Bowe by just 0.06s on his final lap.

It was the first time since 2009 that Bowe hasn’t qualified on pole at the Clipsal 500 and ended his run of six straight Adelaide TCM pole positions.

The second of three Touring Car Masters races will be held on Saturday at 11:05am local time and will be live on FOX Sports Motorsport. The race will also be shown on the Ten Network as part of their extensive race coverage on free-to-air this weekend.