One-percenters key to Johnson’s success
Steve Johnson is enjoying life in the Gulf Western Oil Touring Car Masters after taking yet another round victory at the Winton Motor Raceway last weekend.
The series produced four brilliant races across the weekend, which saw the Hancock Racing driver on the top step of the podium on two separate occasions.
The 49-year-old started from the front of the grid in race one after putting his Ford Mustang TransAm in pole position ahead of Rare Spares / PAYNTER DIXON’s John Bowe in qualifying late Friday afternoon.
Johnson held the position at the start of race one after Bowe had to withdraw from the race due to an engine issue in his Holden Torana SL/R – and the polesitter never looked like surrendering the lead in a dominant lights-to-flag performance.
The series leader then mirrored his efforts from the opening race to take the chequered flag five seconds ahead of Bowe and Western General Body Works’ Danny Buzadzic in race two.
The third and final race of the weekend saw Johnson finish on the second step of the podium after an intriguing battle with Bowe throughout the entirety of the race – falling short by just six-tenths of a second.
The second-place finish was enough to secure round honours for Johnson and his team, who are off to a dream start to the 2023 campaign.
“We had a pretty good weekend and it was great to get the round win,” Johnson said.
“It’s been a fantastic year to date, the Hancock Racing team have put a lot of time and effort into that car and so have I.
“We are making sure we hit the ground running at every track we go to, and we are leaving no stone unturned to get the results we want.”
Johnson also credited the work put in behind the scenes from both him and the team, ensuring all the little one-percenters are covered each week.
“I only started driving the car at Sandown last year, and we have done a lot to it to get what I need out of it and ever since we rolled out a lot of those changes at Bathurst last year, it’s been great,” Johnson explained.
“We don’t have to change a lot from track to track, but the reason we are so dominant is that we are doing more homework behind the scenes than people probably realise.
“This is what makes a team successful, it’s what makes a team win races.”
As for the fight with Bowe for the outright lead in race three, Johnson had decided to avoid any unnecessary risks in order to focus on his lead in the title race.
“It’s always good fun racing with John, we go back a long way,” Johnson added.
“We are always trying hard to win, but to be able to push him at the end there and go along with him the whole way when he had a set of tyres that had done a full race less than mine was great.
“He made a mistake at the start of the last lap and I could have had a good go at it, but I decided to play it safe and try to eliminate any potential incidents so it wouldn’t put us out of the race.
“Settling for second was a much better option, it’s been getting tougher each race, so we have just got to continue to be consistent for the year and not make any mistakes.”
The Gulf Western Oil Touring Car Masters will next take the track when the series joins the Repco Supercars Championship a The Bend Motorsport Park on 18-20 August.