Jason Gomersall has banked the fastest ever Touring Car Masters lap of Hidden Valley Raceway to top practice for the Shannons Thunder in the Valley today. Gomersall’s 1m12.3800s was 0.003s faster than John Bowe’s 2015 pole time at the 2.87km Darwin circuit and carried on the sensational debut of his stunning, Peter Brock-inspired A9X Holden Torana.
The iSeek Racing driver was fastest in practice for the recent Winton round of the championship on the debut of his new, Matt Stone Racing-constructed Torana. The ProAm class leader then went on to finish second behind John Bowe in the first two races at the county Victorian circuit in a stunning debut for the first ever Hatchback Torana to race in TCM.
Today he carried that form into the Top End challenge this weekend by setting the fastest time in the second session and the quickest overall time of the day as the field prepares for qualifying tomorrow morning.
Glenn Seton was second overall across today’s pair of 20-minute sessions: his 1m12.9958s lap edging John Bowe’s Holden Torana out by 0.06s.
Bowe, last year’s Darwin polesitter and round runner-up was third fastest in the Wilson Security Torana while Steven Johnson ended the day fourth in the WM Waste Management / Synergy Race Engines Falcon GTHO.
Johnson had a challenging start to the weekend when he completed just two laps of the first session thanks to a broken power steering oil line. A repair between sessions saw the No. 17 Falcon jump immediately to fourth place – 1.1s from Gomersall’s fastest time but only 0.5s slower than Seton and Bowe ahead of him.
Johnson won the Darwin round last year with two race victories, driving John Bowe’s Ford Mustang.
Jim Richards ended practice fifth in the Shannons Insurance AMC Javelin, just 0.02s behind Johnson’s Falcon.
Eddie Abelnica (Falcon XB Coupe), Mark King (Camaro), Andrew Fisher (Falcon GTHO), the impressive Wayne Mercer (Falcon GTHO) and Tony Karanfilovski (Mustang) completed the top 10 in today’s combined practice times. Abelnica was the fastest car in a straight line today, his Darwin’s Cheapest Cars Falcon clocked at an impressive 256km/hr on the circuit’s timing speed trap in practice one.
King battled understeer early in his Camaro before improving in practice two, while Fisher survived a late brush with the wall in practice two in his Jesus Life Choices Falcon GTHO.
Outside the top-10, Cameron Tilley was 11th in the Valliant Pacer and Rusty French 12th in his Skye Sands Mustang.
Adam Garwood edged out dad Greg by 0.2s for 13th an 14th while series returnee Bob Middleton traded radio headset for helmet today for the first time in years – returning to the wheel of the No. 95 Whiteline Racing Chevrolet Camaro.
Middleton estimated that he hadn’t driven his car for ‘six or seven years’ but was immediately up to speed in the newly liveried Chevrolet.
Nigel Benson, Darren Beale, Michael Cannon – on debut in his GTHO Falcon – and Mick Wilson’s Charger completed the field.
Saturday’s TCM schedule for the Shannons Thunder in the Valley has TCM cars qualifying and tackling their first race of the weekend.
John Bowe is the reigning Darwin polesitter, and has scored pole on seven of the eight times TCM has visited Hidden Valley Raceway. Jim Richards – in 2009 – is the only other driver to have scored a TCM pole in Darwin.