SUPPORTS: Johnson, Emery clinch titles at Sandown
Paynter Dixon Touring Car Masters
Steven Johnson has provisionally won the 2019 Touring Car Masters series as John Bowe and Bruce Williams shared spoils in the first three races of the final round at Sandown.
Bowe (Holden Torana) made a textbook pass on Johnson (Ford Mustang) for the lead at Turn 1 halfway through Race 1 before it became a four-car lead battle in the closing stages when Aaron Seton (Ford Mustang) and Adam Garwood (Chevrolet Camaro) hooked on.
The order remained the same until the chequered flag with Bowe winning by less than a second to Johnson, Seton, Garwood and Jim Pollicina (Holden Torana).
Bowe emerged in the lead through the opening corners of Race 2, while Seton powered by Johnson for second a lap later.
The Safety Car was deployed on Lap 4 when Ryal Harris (Chevrolet Camaro) and Marcus Zukanovic (XD Falcon) came together.
The pair went wheel-to-wheel exiting Turn 9, locking wheels and finding the fence on the inside of the circuit.
Repairs were needed to the armco, and Bowe led the field across the finish line under Safety Car, ahead of Seton, Johnson, Garwood and Adam Bressington (Chevrolet Camaro).
Earlier, it was a messy start to the Trophy Race with a first-corner incident involving Cameron Tilley (Valiant Pacer), Rob Hackwood (Pontiac Trans Am), Peter Burnitt (Holden Torana), and Ryan Hansford (Holden Torana).
Contact between Hackwood and Tilley saw the latter spin in front of the pack, while Burnitt and Hansford were also caught up.
The incident necessitated a Safety Car and left a one-lap dash to the chequered flag, with Williams passing Cameron Mason for the win ahead of Tony Karanfilovski (Ford Mustang) in third.
Johnson takes an unassailable lead into tomorrow’s final race of the season, which starts at 1130 local time/AEDT.
Australian GT Championship
Geoff Emery also clinched a title with a race to spare, his third in the Australian GT Championship.
Emery (Audi R8 LMS Evo GT3) put matters beyond doubt by finishing fifth in Race 2, and ended out the season in style with a victory in Race 3.
Peter Hackett (Mercedes-AMG GT3) won Race 2 after emerging from the pit stop sequence in the lead ahead of the Ryan Simpson/Fraser Ross McLaren 720s GT3 and Liam Talbot (Lamborghini Huracan GT3) in third.
Ross and Simpson did not start Race 3 after the ‘firebombs’ reportedly went off in the car, while the #48 KTM X-Bow GT4 driven by Dean Koutsoumidis found the wall on the lap to the grid.
Hackett led for the first half of the race until Talbot powered by him in wet conditions on slick tyres on the back straight, with the pair then immediately diving in for their compulsory pit stop.
Hackett beat Talbot out of the pits but got caught up behind traffic as Talbot sliced back past for the lead with 13 minutes to go.
Emery stopped twice in the race having come in for wet tyres when the rain started falling, rejoining in third after his compulsory stop
He then moved up to second after Talbot made a late trip through pit lane.
On the penultimate lap, Emery caught up to and passed Hackett to take the win, while Talbot was third.
Toyota 86 Racing Series
It was a perfect Saturday for Aaron Borg as he won both races in the Toyota 86 Racing Series to cement his place at the top of the standings.
Title rival Luke King piled on the pressure in Race 2 and briefly stole the lead but Borg held his nerve in tricky conditions to take the chequered flag for the Sieders Racing Team.
In a tight finish, King was second while Tim Brook edged out 17-year-old Jaylyn Robotham for third.
There were some little bumps between Borg and King on the final lap but it was a fair fight for the race win.
Guest drivers Steven Johnson and Harry Bates were 17th and 18th respectively.
Borg had earlier claimed the series lead by winning Race 1, thanks to a big pass on King in the closing stages.
King, in turn, had stolen a march on pole-sitter Brook off the start line and proceeded to head the field for much of the race.
There was a lucky escape for Luke van Herwaarde when slight contact with Zach Loscialpo left the #38 car facing the wrong way at Turn 1.
Loscialpo and Liam McAdam had to take to the grass on the outside but nobody made contact with the stricken van Herwaarde, who was able to get going again.
A spirited battle between Jaiden Maggs and Kyle Gurton saw the latter squeezed the latter off track, his vehicle kissing the barriers without sustaining major damage.
King finished just 0.248s behind Borg in second, Brook completing the top three, while Johnson was 15th, two places ahead of Bates.
Race 3 of the penultimate round is scheduled for 1050 local time/AEDT on Sunday.