Evangelou wins on Touring Cars return at Winton

Tony Evangelou has taken the opening race at Winton

Tony Evangelou has taken the opening race at Winton

Former Kumho Tyres Australian V8 Touring Car Series champion Tony Evangelou has made a triumph return to the class, taking victory in today’s opening race of Round 3 at Winton Motor Raceway.

Evangelou, the 2010 series champion, won today’s nine-lap opener in his first race in the series since last year’s opening round at Wakefield Park.

Driving an ex-Ford Performance Racing Falcon, Evangelou started on the front row of the grid and won by 3.8-seconds over series leader Jim Pollicina’s ex-Tasman Motorsport Commodore.

Pollicina extended his lead over 17-year-old rookie sensation Josh Hunter to 31 points, with the Fernandez Motorsport-run youngster finishing third from eighth on the grid.

Pole-man Morgan Haber (MW Motorsport Falcon) led the field into Turn 1 at the beginning of the race, but slipped back in the opening lap and then again on lap three when he ran off at turn one on a Safety Car restart.

He recovered to finish fourth and set the fastest lap of the race.

Local Wangaratta-based driver Mark Shepherd finished fifth clear of Aaron Tebb, Michael Bartsch, Matt Hansen (who fell to last after spinning at the first corner), Shawn Jamieson and Nathan Garioch.

Bobby Jane, son of four-time Australian Touring Car Champion Bob Jane, stalled on the grid and caused a Lap 1 Safety Car before recovering to finish 11th.

Last round winner Chris Smerdon was running seventh but spun off on lap five and eventually finished a lowly 16th.

Races 2 and 3 will be held tomorrow at 10.00am and 12.30pm to round out the weekend at Winton.

In other Australian V8 Touring Car Series news, former Saloon Car champion Bruce Heinrich was forced to withdraw from the event after his transporter broke down en route to Winton. His absence meant the the category’s record field of 21 was denied.

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