Click on the Video tab for footage of race two's first lap chaos.
Adam Garwood raced to his second ever Touring Car Masters race victory amidst a day of high drama at Winton Raceway.
The young Tasmanian driver and experienced ace Eddie Abelnica staged a thrilling battle in the third race of the weekend at the rural Victorian venue – eventually powering past to take a strong victory in his Holden Torana. It marked his second race win in the series, and first in a non-reverse grid affair. It also came twelve months after he lost the lead of a race at Winton on the final lap.
Unfortunately a majority of the headlines were dominated by a multi-car crash at the start of race two that saw several cars severely damaged. The incident unfolded when polesitter Jason Gomersall’s Bigmate Racing Holden Torana spun in front of the field exiting turn two.
Having initially slid in one direction, the car spun across the road and made contact with Eddie Abelnica’s XB Falcon. To make matters worse, Mark King had nowhere to go in his Whiteline Racing / King Springs Camaro, also hitting Gomersall.
John Bowe was caught between Abelnica and the wall and suffered damage, while Sven Burchartz, Tony Karanfilovski, Adam Garwood, Andrew Fisher and Bernie Stack also suffered damage. Stack, in particular, was caught in the middle of the impact and was taken to Wangaratta Hospital for precautionary scans on his neck and back after experiencing soreness while being extracted from the car.
Abelnica and Garwood were able to repair their cars in time for the third race while seven failed to make the starter with various amounts of damage.
Though serious, the accident highlighted the immense strength of the Touring Car Masters cars which, though classic Muscle and Sports cars, are built to the toughest modern safety standards.
Despite the drama, the third race would prove to be a classic with four different models battling for the race lead throughout its duration. Abelnica powered to the front, edging out a handy margin on the opening lap over Garwood and Ryan Hansford.
The margin was gradually reduced by the Tasmanian driver, however, and on the seventh lap he was able to pass the Melbourne’s Cheapest Cars Falcon for the lead with a decisive pass at turn ten.Abelnica's second place represented a mighty effort from his team to repair his Falcon in time for the start, after suffering significant damage to the right-front corner in race two.
What had then become a five-car battle for the lead continued for the remainder of the race with Abelnica fighting off a charging Adam Bressington (Fabre / Whiteline Racing Camaro), Hansford and the Anglomoil Valliant Pacer of a charging Cameron Tilley.
Less than 1.5 seconds covered the top five as they crossed the line at the end of a hugely entertaining race.
Steven Johnson stormed from the back of the grid to finish sixth, with Cameron Mason completing a strong weekend in seventh. Michael ‘Blu’ Cannon, Leo Tobin and Wayne Mercer completed the top-10.
Bruce Williams had again powered his ACDelco Torana to the pointy-end of the grid however was forced to retire within sight of the flag after a broken oil line sidelined his Torana.
Stan Adler led home Rohan Little and Manny Palyaris in the IROC Challenge class results at Winton, while Blu Cannon scored his first ProSports round victory, ahead of Darren Beale.
Adam Bressington won the ProAm round ahead of Ryan Hansford and Cameron Tilley, while Eddie Abelnica scored his second TCM round victory by topping the ProMaster points ahead of Steven Johnson and Jason Gomersall.
The next round of the Touring Car Masters series will see the cars and stars head north for the annual trip to the Northern Territory, for the Crown Bet Triple Crown at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway.