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Nov 28, 2012

SANDOWN - RACE ONE

The final round, three races remain and it was on for all in today’s opening race of the Masters, with reigning title holder and champion elect, Bowe, to start from pole, Miedecke, Richards, Tilley and Bressington set to fire from the top five. It would be an early roll over that would see a full restart and the green light action was epic from front to rear of the field on both launches.

Race start had Miedecke and Crick bog down as Bowe smoked away and Richards fired around the front runners to claim an early lead, and it was four wide into the first corner. Tilley moved into second, but contact with Miedecke would send the #95 Camaro off track seeing cars everywhere, and before you could blink Kassulke and Edwards made big contact in the head pack sending the #50 Torana roll, Edwards stranded on his roof as the field raced past. As the action settled under yellow, Bressington made the down change along the back straight, the gearbox blowing to put an end to what was a promising weekend. With Richards in the lead, the safety car was called after just 3 corners of racing but the race would be called with a red flag as support crews worked to assist Edwards who walked away unscathed, but the SL/R suffered heavy damage as he explained,

“Same corner, same track as last time where we had a failure then and ended up in the armco in that corner, now this time I got help that rolled us over – that’s what happens when you get slammed in the door right in front of the back wheel.

“Roll overs are easy, hitting walls is hard but it’s made a hell of a mess, the car is all but a write off, but we’ll get it back out even though the shell is pretty bent, so hopefully we can get back out for races two and three and get some points to at least stay fourth in the championship.

“We’ve had finishes in the last 18 races without losing a lap and had potential to look at third in the title. This is going to make it more difficult, but if we can score points in the next two races we might still be able to gain that third for the year.”

With Edwards safe and cleared, the Masters returned to the circuit to warm up and take on a now eight lap charge and the repeat would be as exciting as the first attempt. The full restart saw Bowe back on P1, bogging down off the line, Richards again started well in the Javelin to take the lead, with Tilley very strong. In the pack, Benson made a big move to the outside and would be side by side with fellow Class B title contender Stillwell, Almond fired the Porsche to the centre but Sparks dropped to the rear.

All clean through the opening turns and it was racing time, but contact in the pack had negated Almonds good start, seeing him wide and dropping into the pack. Miedecke was all over Richards, Benson was on a charge on King, while Collins and Pye went side by side along the main straight, Pye holding on the run into turn 1. Mason and Keene were locked in their own battle, but ahead Miedecke had taken the lead through turn three of lap two.

It was a four way tussle for the race lead, and Freestone and Karanfilovski wanted in, showing strength both inside the top eight with not a moment to breathe as the challenges continued. Benson made the move around Almond showing the HQ’s power on the straight run, but for Nittis, he would soon be looking ahead to the full field, a big task to get back into the pack. Tilley and Bowe were fighting it out, the Falcon already bearing battle scars from the earlier race start, Bowe taking second into turn four of the third pass.

Mercer had his GTHO on rails gaining on Pye, King was onto Karanfilovski while NIttis was continuing his charge to make progress onto Almond along Dandenong Road. Out front, Richards dove under the Miedecke Camaro to re-take the lead of the race, the full field holding close, but for Miedecke the fight would end early as he pulled off on the run onto the back straight with suspected engine issues, moving Bowe to second.

As Kassulke headed to pit lane to serve a drive through penalty, Youlden and O’Brien were hunting down the Makarios Falcon, Mason was putting it all into this charge for Benson, and Kassulke returned to the circuit bouncing the XB Coupe through the final turn, the red eyes on as he looked to keep a gap back to the leaders closing in. Karanfilovski had Pye all over his bumper, Collins was holding off King, and Mason and Keene were putting it all on the line as they went side by side into turn one.

Crick wanted third, closing in with each passing corner, but it was Karanfilovski drawing the eye as he stepped his Falcon sideways onto the main straight while Pye kicked up some dirt through the same corner. King locked a wheel into turn one and it was seven cars nose to tail mid pack with Makarios at the helm as the leaders crossed the line with one lap remaining. Bowe wanted the win, all over Richards ahead, Pye moved to the inside to take turns two and three side on with Karanfilovski, while Nittis moved up again passing the battle scarred Wilson Charger along the straight for the final time.

With close battles stretched across the Masters field, Richards held off Bowe to take his second race win of the season, both at Sandown Raceway, saying,

“It was great to have another win to end the season. It was more that the other guys had bad starts, but we got reasonable starts, so its great for us.

“Our car is a little bit better in some areas and Bowe’s car is better in other areas so it makes for some interesting racing.

“We really wanted to run the Sprint, but the Javelin was great, and it (the Sprint’s oil seal failure) may have done us a favour so we’re looking forward to battling it out in races two and three.”

Coming home with impressive and action packed race memories was Tilley in third, followed by Crick, Freestone with his best result so far in his stunning Camaro, Pye, Karanfilovski, King managed to make the move under Collins and Youlden taking tenth to start from pole in Race 2’s top ten reverse grid coming soon. While in the pack, it’s a hard fight for the Pro-Sportsman honours, O’Brien taking the class race win, with Mercer coming home strong, Class champion elect Stillwell keeping it clean, while Mason, Keene and Benson were locked together as they crossed the line to bring it home. O’Brien was thrilled to be mid-project on the series’ latest SL/R 5000 and still putting in the good miles in his trusty HQ, explaining,

“Wow, that was an action packed race! We knew we had a good car, the boys continue to do really well, but I’ve been a bit rusty because we haven’t had a lot of track time this year, but to perform again is really good for the team and I really appreciate what they do.

“The car is a real race car now, it’s basically our Bathurst car setup, with a couple more Torana test parts in this weekend and we’ve ticked another box, learning a lot that will hopefully transfer into the Torana to make for a good car straight up.”

Watch it all this weekend via itvlive.com.au!

The Touring Car Masters is proudly supported by Shannons Insurance, Rare Spares, Unique Cars Magazine and the 2012 Australian Muscle Car Masters, with official suppliers Hoosier Tires and Australian Sports Marketing.