Bowe wins in shortened round at Symmons Plains
Touring Car Masters presented by Autobarn’s Tasmanian hero, John Bowe took outright victory on home soil in a shortened two-race round six at Symmons Plains (TAS), this weekend.
Delighted to be in action back at Symmons Plains for the track’s 50th anniversary, Bowe was immediately at home, topping the timesheets in both of Friday’s practice sessions. Fellow Tasmanian, Andrew Miedecke also quickly reacquainted himself after a 20-year absence from his home track, setting the third and second fastest practice times respectively.
Friday’s practice also reignited the battle between Bernie Stack, Chris Stillwell and Cameron Tilley, with Stack and Stillwell taking turns at the top of the Group 2 leader board.
Phillip Showers and Tony Karanfilovski traded blows in Group 3, each setting fastest practice session times.
Friday also yielded its share of dramas with Gavin Bullas’ Boss Mustang and Cameron Mason’s Datsun 510 suffering engine failures in the opening session. However, both crews’ remarkable efforts changing engines saw both the Mustang and the Datsun ready for action on Saturday morning.
Again heading the 25-strong field of classic muscle cars, Bowe blitzed qualifying to take his fifth pole position of the season ahead of the www.usgmsp.com Camaro of Steve Mason and Wilson Security Falcon XA of Leanne Tander, while electrical troubles in the Rain City Mustang left Bullas languishing in 20th place in qualifying.
Cameron Tilley posted the seventh fastest qualifying time to lead Group 2 in the Tilleys Automotive Valiant Pacer, while Showers’ Northern BM Escort was the quickest Group 3 qualifier.
The Touring Car Masters qualifying was disrupted with a safety car to retrieve the stricken Mick Wilson Treloar Roses / Mick Wilson Plumbing Charger and Garry Treloar’s Treloar Roses Camaro. For Wilson a simple fuel pick up problem was easily rectified, but it was bad news for Treloar as major engine failure ended his weekend. The Karanfilovski TIFS Alfa Romeo GTAM also suffered a terminal engine failure.
Starting race one from the front row alongside Mason, Bowe and his ’69 WesTrac Cat / Wilson Security Mustang charged off the line and left the field trailing in his rear view mirrors for the entire race distance, twice setting a new lap record along the way.
Behind Bowe, a furious battle between Mason and Miedecke ensued with Leanne Tander also in the mix waiting for any opportunity to pounce. A superb return to form saw Mason secure in second place as the pack rounded the last corner of the last lap, but a slight pinch of brakes forced him wide allowing Miedecke’s WesTrac Cat Camaro room to slip by and steal second place ahead of Mason and Tander, treating local fans to a Tasmanian 1-2 victory with former V8 Supercar stars Bowe and Miedecke first and second across the finish line.
After starting from 20th on the grid, Bullas’ horror weekend continued. After a storming drive up to fifth place, Bullas retired from the race with a split oil line and back to 21st on the grid for race two.
Bernie Stack was back in winning form taking out the Group 2 class, while Phillip Showers’ Ford Escort took an uncontested win in the under two-litre Group 3 class.
Lining up in full wet conditions for Sunday’s race two, marshals struggled to fix the Armco along John Bowe Straight which was damaged at the end of the previous category’s race, while the Touring Car Masters cars waited in pit lane.
As officials worked frantically to repair the safety barrier, the clock continued to tick away unfortunately forcing the cancellation of the Touring Car Masters race, reducing the weekend’s schedule from three races to two.
Taking to the circuit again at 11.55am, the field lined up for race two with a reverse top-eight grid headed by the smaller capacity Group 2 Stillwell Motorsport Mustang of Chris Stillwell and Porsche 911 of Stack on the front row with Bowe starting back in eighth.
A wet weather master, Stack got the jump off the line and led the field for three laps, stretching a 1.09s margin at the front of the field before being reeled in by a hard charging Bowe on lap four.
As Bowe barged past Stack, Stillwell was quick to follow suit, pushing his way past the Gawler Body Works Porsche 911, followed by Youlden a few corners later on his way up into second place in pursuit of Bowe.
Local hero, Miedecke peeled into the pits on lap six with a flat tyre for a premature end to his home event.
As the pack stabilised at the front of the field, an incident with Ross Almond brought out the safety car to retrieve the Toshiba / Copyworld Porsche 911, and the action-packed race ended under safety car conditions.
While the locals had their eyes on Bowe as he carved his way to the fore of the field once more, defending series champion, Bullas was stellar as he climbed from 21st to eighth and set the fastest lap of the race.
As Bowe and Youlden stretched a gap at the head of the field, the Group 2 cars of Stillwell and Stack drove a brilliant race, respectively finishing third and fourth, holding a gaggle of Group 1 cars at bay. Stillwell took the Group 2 win with Stack second. Showers’ popular purple Escort took the Group 3 honours.
The Touring Car Masters presented by Autobarn now returns to the mainland for back-to-back events with round seven at Sandown Motor Raceway (VIC) on 19-21 November.
“We had a great run this weekend. I’ve raced here so often that I understand the track and know what’s needed.
“The car was awesome. Dick Savy has done a lovely job on the engine which really helped today in the wet. It’s got great power progression. It puts the power down well and good traction gives you good speed.
“I’m obviously disappointed we didn’t get to run our third race – the fans here really love our cars.
“It’s a quick turnaround now; we’re back on track again next week in Melbourne. Sandown is a terrific track and this category is a great fit for the V8 fans.”
The Touring Car Masters is proudly presented by Autobarn, and supported by Biante Model Cars, Shannons Insurance, Rare Spares and official suppliers Hoosier Tires and Australian Sports Marketing.
Images via Touring Car Masters