Returning frontrunners and a new yet very familiar name highlight a strong Touring Car Masters grid for round two of the 2017 series this coming weekend at Winton. While Eddie Abelnica (XB Falcon Hardtop) and Bruce Williams (Holden Torana SL/R 5000) will both return to TCM this weekend, former Supercars driver Melinda Price will make her debut in the category driving Phil Morris’ four-door XA Falcon GT.
A former member of the all-female ‘Castrol Cougars’ squad in the 1990s, Price has made a gradual return to racing in recent years and recently contested the first round of the Australian GT trophy series at Sandown, racing a Ford Focus MARC Cars Australia entry. Her TCM debut at Winton is the first round in a planned full-year campaign in the category.
“I was excited to be running historics a few years ago and then to be on the grid at Sandown in the GT race last month was amazing,” said Price, “it keeps getting better and better.
“I can’t wait to get in one of those cars and on track with those legends.. I was on the Supercars grid with some of them 20 years ago. I’m looking forward to having a steer of a muscle car and be part of the Supercar show again.”
Price said several members of the TCM family had been working hard to help her quest to join the grid.
“I’ve got a few really great people who are on my side helping and encouraging me while I’ve been trying to get back into racing. John (Bowe) has been saying for a while how good Touring Car Masters is and how great it would be if I could do it. I’m grateful for his help, to Phil Morris for letting me drive his car and to Tony Hunter for welcoming me to the category.
“I really want to do them justice and make them feel like it’s been worthwhile, and get on the grid for the full year.”
Price’s XA GT has a strong TCM pedigree and was raced to a round podium finish at Winton in 2010 when in the hands of Leanne Tander.
Meanwhile, former AUSCAR and Formula Holden racer Bruce Williams will make his return to the category, having made his TCM debut at Winton in his Les Small-built Torana SL/R exactly one year ago. Williams qualified an impressive eighth with his then-undeveloped Torana at Winton last year, however sat the remainder of the year out while developing the car and raising sponsorship for the 2017 season.
After missing the opening round at the Clipsal 500, Eddie Abelnica will also return in his storming Melbourne’s Cheapest Cars XB Falcon Coupe’. Abelnica finished third in the TCM ProMasters category last year and the seven-time TCM race winner will be keen to return to his regular place at the pointy-end this weekend.
Also returning this weekend include Terry Lawler, with his Ford Mustang repaired after it’s unfortunate turn one crash in Adelaide. Paul Freestone returns in his Chevrolet Camaro, while Tony Karanfilovski will be keen to make amends for a disappointing opening round in Adelaide.
The Ford Mustang driver had crossed the line first in the Trophy race however was subsequently penalised 22 seconds for a safety car restart infringement – handing the win to Brad Tilley. The Sydneysider has a strong record at Winton, having won a race there in 2014 and finished third in the trophy race twelve months ago.
Current TCM class leaders Leo Tobin (ProSport), Adam Bressington (ProAm) and John Bowe (ProMasters) are all likely to face serious opposition.
In ProSports, Tobin will need to deal with a host of the IROC Porsche 911s at Winton, the nimble, light sports cars always strong on the 3.1km Winton twists and turns.
Last year at Winton, John Bowe edged out Jason Gomersall for pole by 0.08s and led home his fellow Torana driver to win two of the three races at the country Victorian circuit.
Adam Garwood was then on to make it a Holden clean-sweep in the Trophy race, before Glenn Seton executed a stunning last-lap pass to grab the victory – the first time Bowe and his Torana has been beaten at Winton in five races.