Joel Heinrich’s successful debut weekend in the Gulf Western Oil Touring Car Masters has ended with another victory in race three, while consistency paved the way to an overall round victory for Ryan Hansford.
JOHNSON DOUBLE EDGES MUSTANG CLOSER TO TCM HISTORY
Johnson now only needs a solid finish in tomorrow’s final 11-lap dash to secure a record fourth consecutive TCM round victory – a feat never before achieved in the championship’s 15-year history.
Johnson, John Bowe and former champion Gavin Bullas are the only drivers to have won three consecutive rounds, however none have claimed a fourth.
Johnson fended off Andrew Fisher to claim the opening race on Saturday morning before easing away from the battling pack behind him to secure a second win later in the afternoon.
Johnson led the opening race from pole however had to fend off the Jesus Racing / Life Choices Torana in the early stages.
He was under consistent pressure before a late-race Safety Car – for Geoff Fane who found the tyres at turn two – ended the battle with Johnson winning from Fisher and Adam Bressington, in third.
Such was the pressure at the front that Johnson re-set his own Newcastle lap record as he responded to pressure from the chasing Torana.
It’s the second round in a row that the stunning Mustang has set a TCM lap record.
Race two was much more lively, though Johnson was able to comfortably ease away out in front.
Furious battling occurred behind however as Ryan Hansford starred with a storming drive to second position.
The Multispares Racing Torana driver had struggled in race one, finishing only sixth.
However the Queenslander was inspired in race two and worked his way past Marcus Zukanovic, Andrew Fisher and finally Adam Bressington with a series of decisive overtakes to climb to second.
He closed to within two seconds of Johnson on the final lap setting up a thrilling showdown for the final race tomorrow.
Bressington again finished third while Fisher was fourth and Marcus Zukanovic a fighting fifth.
Cameron Tilley was close behind in sixth and in front of John Bowe’s Rare Spares Torana.
The Tasmanian had a challenging day at the office as he was penalised five seconds in race one for being outside of his grid box at the rolling start.
Down on engine power, he then followed the battling pack for third through sixth position for the second race to consolidate championship points.
One further race will decide the weekend on Sunday afternoon at Newcastle, with Johnson leading the round standings overall ahead of Adam Bressington and Andrew Fisher, who are tied for second.
Hansford and Zukanovic remain in close company with that pair in what is set to be a heated fight for the podium tomorrow.
The final race of the round will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 506, Kayo Sport and Channel 7 tomorrow.