Two wins at Sandown have delivered the Paynter Dixon Touring Car Masters series lead to Steven Johnson as the series begins a countdown to their annual visit to Mount Panorama. The Team Johnson Ford Mustang driver now leads former series leader John Bowe by 55-points ahead of the final two rounds of the series, the latter executed a typically strong recovery after spinning out of the first race and failing to finish.
Johnson led from lights-to-flag in Sunday’s 18th race of the championship, building an early lead and then managing his margin over the 10-lap duration. The Mustang’s early lead was aided by contact at turn one between Jason Gomersall and Adam Bressington, the pair spinning out of second and third moments after the start of the race. That elevated Ryan Hansford to second and Tony Karanfilovski to third at the end of the opening lap.
Bowe’s charge saw him 11th by the end of the first lap and sixth by half-race distance, quickly closing on an intense battle for the final step on the podium between Hansford, Paul Freestone and Karanfilovski. As Freestone passed Hansford for second on lap six, Bowe moved to fifth and closed further on the leading group, passing Karanfilovski on the next lap. He got to the back of Hansford on lap nine and passed the fellow Torana driver into the final corner, but was unable to get past Freestone on the final lap – settling for third.
Hansford finished fourth and King fifth, while Tony Karanfilovski, Jim Pollicina, Jamie Tilley, Andrew Fisher and a recovering Adam Bressington completed the top-10. Jason Gomersall recovered to 12th.
The race included a wild moment for Aaron McGill, who survived a wild spin at turn eight and nine when his power steering failed. His Falcon speared across the circuit however fortunately just glanced the wall, avoiding major damage.
Johnson won the ProMasters class at Sandown, with Adam Bressington and Mark King completing the podium. Freestone won the ProAm class in style, Ryan Hansford and Tony Karanfilovski second and third, while Jim Pollicina enhanced his class title chances by winning ProSports, Jamie Tilley on the podium for the first time and Leo Tobin third. Brett Curran won TransAm, while the Dometic Trophy Race prizes went to Dean Lillie, Marcus Zukanovic and Blu Cannon.
With two rounds remaining Johnson now leads Bowe by 55-points in the Paynter Dixon Touring Car Masters standings, with Adam Bressington remaining third outright. Jason Gomersall and Mark King complete the top five, while Cameron Tilley retains a narrow lead in the ProAm standings – and sixth outright - despite failing to score this weekend.
Ryan Hansford and Tony Karanfilovski sit seventh and eighth, respectively, with Andrew Fisher and ProSports class leader Jim Pollicina completing the top-10 in the standings.
The series continues at Mount Panorama in three weeks time.