Steve Johnson smashed his own Touring Car Masters qualifying record to take an emphatic pole position for round six of the series, this morning at Mount Panorama. In what turned out to be a shortened nine-minute dash for pole, Johnson’s fourth flyer saw him post a stunning 2m16.6160s lap to secure his sixth TCM pole position by more than a full second.
The stunning lap was a full 1.5-seconds beneath his own Bathurst qualifying record set two years ago, and exactly one second faster than next best Adam Bressington. The Whiteline Racing Camaro driver was also under Johnson’s existing benchmark, though his otherwise impressive 2m17.70s lap placing the title contender in front of John Bowe on the grid.
Bowe was two-tenths further back from the Camaro in third and was also under Johnson’s existing 2m18.16s benchmark however traffic at turn one saw him abandon his final lap and any chance to improve. Adam Garwood qualified fourth in his Holden Torana, his 2m19.26s lap edging out Ryan Hansford’s similar Torana for a spot on the second row of the grid.
Jim Richards qualified sixth in the Shannons Insurance Ford Falcon Sprint, while Andrew Fisher will line-up seventh in the Jesus Racing GTHO. Brad Tilley was clocked at 283km/hr on Conrod straight en route to eighth place on the return of the GTHO, while Mark King was a strong ninth in the second entry from Whiteline Racing, the HQ Monaro continuing to improve in the capable Queenslander’s hands.
Eddie Abelnica competed the top-10 in the Melbourne’s Cheapest Cars XB Falcon, while Tony Karanfilovski (11th) and an impressive Wayne Mercer (12th) qualified just outside the top-10.
The session was red flagged before a majority of the field could set a flying lap when Terry Lawlor put his Lady Luck Racing Mustang into the gravel at McPhillamy Park. In a wild moment, the ’64 Mustang slid sideways past the McPhillamy Park gates but avoided any contact with anything other than the gravel trap at the top of Mount Panorama.
Buried deep in the sand, it took some time to recover the car – allowing just seven minutes of green flag running for drivers to complete a lap at the end of the session.
Cameron Tilley qualified the Anglomoil Valliant Pacer in 14th position – a remarkable effort given the car missed both practice sessions yesterday. The Sydney driver was waiting for a replacement head to arrive from the United States, the new component arriving at the team’s Brookvale, Sydney, workshop at 11pm last night after lengthy delays in Customs while en route. The team quickly installed the components and loaded the car straight onto the trailer, arriving at Bathurst early this morning.
Bruce Williams’ challenging weekend continued in the AC Delco Torana, managing a 2m26.3s lap to qualify 17th.
Qualifying, Round Six, Mount Panorama:
1 Steve Johnson (Ford Falcon XY) 2m16.6160s
2 Adam Bressington (Chevrolet Camaro SS) 2m17.7019s
3 John Bowe (Holden Torana SL/R) 2m17.8764s
4 Adam Garwood (Holden Torana A9X) 2m19.2670s
5 Ryan Hansford (Holden Torana SL/R) 2m19.9996s
6 Jim Richards (Ford Falcon Sprint) 2m20.1893s
7 Andrew Fisher (Ford Falcon XY GT HO) 2m20.4940s
8 Brad Tilley (Ford Falcon XY GT HO) 2m20.5446s
9 Mark King (Holden Monaro GTS C) 2m21.7810s
10 Eddie Abelnica (Ford Falcon XB Coupe) 2m22.1865s