June 13, 2016 | General


THE TOURING CAR MASTERS return to the sensational Hidden Valley Raceway just outside of Darwin this weekend for the fourth round of the 2016 season the ‘Shannons Thunder in the Valley’.

The half-way point of the championship Darwin’s event could be a critical one in sorting out who’s where for the busy end of year run to the line that includes major events like the annual Bathurst 1000 trip.

John Bowe continues to lead the ProMaster standings narrowly in front of Steven Johnson and the ever-consistent Eddie Abelnica. Glenn Seton’s big round at Winton rocketed him to fourth in the championship – just ahead of Mark King and Jim Richards.

Jason Gomersall leads Andrew Fisher in the ProAm standings while young gun Adam Garwood tops the charts in ProSports.

Here’s the key talking points as the TCM field heads north to the Sunshine of the Northern Territory.

Glenn Seton’s stunning victory in race three at Winton Raceway was key for a number of reasons.

Not only did he do it by storming from the back of the field to win with a last-lap pass on Adam Garwood it also ended an eight-race losing streak for the iconic Ford Mustang brand in Touring Car Masters.

It was the longest ever losing streak for the Mustang in the history of the category – though Mustangs still account for 105 TCM race victories from 216 races contested to date. Remarkably it was only the second ever race win for Seton in TCM!

The six different race winners from nine starts so far this season represents the most competitive start to a TCM season ever.

The record number for the most different winners in a TCM season is seven – set on four separate occasions (2011 2012 2013 and 2014). With the likes of Steven Johnson Eddie Abelnica and Jason Gomersall showing front running pace but yet to record victories this year there’s every chance 2016 could result in a record winners list for the category.

This year TCM organisers implemented the TCM Trophy Race sponsored by Waeco Refrigerators.

The grid for the feature race race three on the weekend schedule is generated by reversing the top 50% of the race two finishing order and sending them to the back of the field.

So it doesn’t dramatically affect the round results each driver gets 25 points for starting the race and a further 25 for finishing it – making the first two races of the weekend key to deciding the round results.

The result is a series of varied results and new winners – though one driver has clearly been the star performer in the Waeco Trophy Race on all three occasions this year.

Tassie teenager Adam Garwood took advantage of track position to run away in the lead at the Clipsal 500 winning his first TCM race in style driving the Sunliner RV Holden Torana SL/R 5000.

At Sandown he finished sixth (Andrew Fisher scored his first TCM win in the trophy race) while he led a majority of the way at Winton before Seton’s bold move on the final lap relegated him to second place. Watch out for the white orange and black Torana in race three this weekend!.

Jason Gomersall had a career best performance at Winton recently qualifying second and finishing in the same place in races one and two.

Jason has always performed well at Darwin however will be looking for a strong qualifying performance on Saturday morning: after qualifying fourth in 2013 and fifth in 2014 he started race one from sixth last year. He’ll be hoping he doesn’t end up P7 on the grid this year!

Eddie Abelnica sits third in the ProMaster standings though he’s only finished on the podium once this year – proving how consistency is key to winning championships.

The Melbourne’s Cheapest Car Falcon XB Coupe driver last won at Mount Panorama in October 2013 and he has finished inside the top three on 18 occasions since then without cracking it for a race victory. A P1 is long overdue for the popular Victorian and his incredible Falcon.

John Bowe’s two race wins at Winton took his winning tally to 80 in TCM.

He’s also won 26 rounds and been on the round podium 46 times.

Bowe has scored pole on seven of eight occasions in Darwin.

The only time he missed out on pole at Hidden Valley was in 2009 when he qualified second to Jim Richards by just 0.047s – the fourth closest pole winning margin in TCM history!

Seven different drivers have won TCM races in Darwin.

Bowe Gavin Bullas Jim Richards Andrew Miedecke Mark King and Steven Johnson have all won in the top end.

The John Bowe – Jim Richards’ battle has always been strong at Hidden Valley. They’ve qualified 1-2 on five occasions and finished 1-2 in races at Hidden Valley on seven occasions.

Darwin Lap Record: 1m13.3039s (John Bowe 2015)
Darwin Qualifying Record: 1m112.3829s (John Bowe 2015)

Darwin results last year:
Round Results: 1. Steven Johnson 2. John Bowe 3. Andrew Miedecke
Race 1: Johnson Bowe Miedecke
Race 2: Johnson Miedecke Bowe
Race 3: Bowe Johnson Richards