John Bowe and Glenn Seton topped the times after the opening day of practice for the Wilson Trans-Tasman Challenge, at Mount Panorama and the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 today. The first full-field experience for TCM and New Zealand Central Muscle Car competitors went incident free with both 20-minute sessions held today running without stoppage or damage.
While Kiwi runners ran without timing in the opening session, a full 49-car field completed the day’s running – filling the Mountain’s 6.213 kilometres with an enormous array of classic metal. Aussies filled the top ten positions today, however the Kiwi’s impressed with their measured approach to learning the circuit and the Aussie conditions.
Bowe set the fastest time of the day late in the second practice session, his 2m18.63s lap just 0.5s behind Steven Johnson’s existing TCM qualifying record set last year. Seton was second, his Thunder Road Racing team Ford Mustang banking a 2m19.46s lap to shade his long-time rival.
Bowe and Seton are both former Touring Car Masters race winners at Mount Panorama, including Bowe taking two of the three available race victories last year.
Brett Youlden (Gabriel Shock Absorbers HQ Monaro GTS 350) ended the day third, Adam Bressington (Whiteline Racing Chevrolet Camaro) fourth and Steven Johnson fifth in his Synergy Race Engines GTHO Falcon.
Kim Jane deputised for a sick Eddie Abelnica and pushed the Melbourne’s Cheapest Cars Falcon XB Coupe to sixth outright, in front of Mark King (King Springs Camaro), Jim Richards (Shannons Insurance AMC Javelin), Adam Garwood (Ford Capri Perana) and Jason Gomersall. Gomersall’s iSeek Racing team changed engines between practice one and two but otherwise performed strongly.
Current 2015/2016 Central Muscle Cars Champion Dean Perkins led the Kiwi charge, ending the day 14th outright in his Ford Falcon XD. Perkins’ best of 2m24.32s puts him within three seconds of the top four drivers in today’s running, with more improvements to come in qualifying tomorrow.
John Midgley (XE Falcon) was 15th (2m25.43s) and David Hopper third of the Kiwi Brigade, his Camaro posting a 2m25.79s and finishing 17th outright.
Bruce Anderson shared a Group A Ford Mustang with brother Wayne in the 1985 and 1986 Bathurst 1000 races and made his Bathurst return today, ultimately finishing fourth of the NZ runners and 20th outright in his ’69 Mustang Fastback. Charger runner Tony Galbraith was 21st, his 2m30.63s lap enough for fifth of the Central Muscle Cars brigade.
A 30 minute session tomorrow (Friday) morning will set the grid for the three races this weekend, with race one to be contested later in the afternoon. The Waeco Fridges Trophy Race will thenbe contested on Saturday while the Wilson Trans-Tasman Challenge race – which will see the Aussie cars line up on one side of the grid and the Kiwi’s on the other – will be held on Sunday morning as a precursor to the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.