Johnson puts Tru-Blu XD on pole for TCM Race 1

Steven Johnson. Picture: Australian Racing Group

Steven Johnson has qualified the ‘Tru-Blu’ XD Falcon on pole position for Race 1 of Gulf Western Oils Touring Car Masters at Bathurst.

It looked like he and Action Racing’s Marcus Zukanovic would make for an XD front row lockout until Ryan Hansford put the Peters Motorsport Holden Torana into second position just before the chequered flag flew on the 20-minute Qualifying session.

Row 2 will also be a Ford on the inside of a General Motors product, with George Miedecke qualifying fourth in the Whiteline Racing Chevrolet Camaro SS.

John Bowe, who is 10 points clear of a chasing pack headed up by Hansford in the battle for the title, put his Torana sixth on the grid.

Zukanovic had been fastest initially in setting a 2:17.4061s on his first flyer in the #71 XD Falcon, before Johnson took over top spot with a 2:16.2436s in the #17 Team Johnson entry.

Zukanovic then improved his lap time but not his position in setting a 2:16.9677s on his third flyer, as a duel over third spot developed between Hansford and debutant Miedecke.

Despite sometimes being split on the timing screen by Dean Lillie, who was also lapping in the 2:17s in another Torana A9X, it was those two who came to trade the inside second row berth amongst themselves for some time.

Miedecke had consolidated his position with a 2:17.7249s just past the halfway mark before Hansford jumped two spots to third with a 2:17.6154s in the Peters A9X.

Lillie went to fourth on a 2:17.6538s before Miedecke responded with a 2:17.4678s as the session moved into its final five minutes.

After a spell in pit lane, Hansford came back out to lay down a 2:16.8549s in the last seconds before the chequers were unfurled.

He would then go personal best in the first sector again and finished that lap with the fastest third sector of all, but the run across the top cost him as Car #6 only broke the beam in a time of 2:16.9055s.

That meant a top six of Johnson, Hansford, Zukanovic, Miedecke, Lillie, and Bowe on a 2:18.0436s in the #18 Torana SL/R 5000.

The rest of the top 10 was Adam Bressington (Camaro RS), Jamie Tilley (Ford Mustang Coupe), Cameron Mason (Mustang Trans Am), and Gerard McLeod (Commodore VC).

That grid order will not apply until TCM’s first ‘Series Race’ of the Repco Bathurst 1000 event on Wednesday afternoon at 17:25 local time/AEDT.

Before then, the Trophy Race, also a nine-lapper, will be held tomorrow morning from 08:55.

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