Johnson claims TCM Race 1 at Newcastle 500


Three-time TCM title winner Steven Johnson claimed victory in Race 1 of the Gulf Western Oils Touring Car Masters at the Thrifty Newcastle 500. Picture: Ross Gibb Photography

Steven Johnson has secured victory in Race 1 for the Gulf Western Oils Touring Car Masters at the Thrifty Newcastle 500.

Johnson (Ford Mustang) claimed a lights-to-flag victory in the 11-lap encounter that ended under Safety Car, taking the chequered flag ahead of Andrew Fisher (Holden Torana A9X) and Adam Bressington (Chevrolet Camaro SS).

The polesitter continued his dominant start to the year following victory in Round 1 at Symmons Plains Raceway, leading the way from Fisher, Bressington, John Bowe (Holden Torana Torana SL/R 5000), Ryan Hansford (Holden Torana A9X), Cameron Tilley (Valiant Pacer).

Trophy Race winner Marcus Zukanovic (Ford Falcon XD) was next, followed by Geoff Fane (Chevrolet Camaro RS), Peter Burnitt (Holden Torana A9X), John Adams (Ford Falcon XY GT), Tony Karanfilvoski (Ford Mustang Trans Am) and Ian Price (Ford Escort MK II) on the opening lap.

There was trouble for Hansford early in the race, who dropped from fifth to seventh on the first lap, as Tilley and Zukanovic made their way past the Holden Torana A9X driver in the opening corners.

Johnson stretched out a margin to 0.4611s over Fisher, as Adams and Burnitt both locked up going into the run-off at Turn 1 on Lap 2.

He further stretched out his margin to over 1s ahead of Fisher, with Bressington 4s off the pace, as Zukanovic began pressuring Bowe for fourth.

Zukanovic then made his way past Bowe for fourth on Lap 4, with third-placed Bressington 5s up the road.

By Lap 6, Johnson had extended his lead to 1.6s over Fisher, with Bressington a further 7s off the pace.

The following lap he had caught up to the backmackers, before yellow flags were waved as Fane lost the rear of his Chevrolet Camaro RS under brakes and ran into the tyre barrier at Turn 2.

The race ended under Safety Car, with Johnson crossing the stripe ahead of Fisher, Bressington, Zukanovic, Bowe, Tilley, Hansford, Burnitt and Price, with the latter two finishing a lap down.

Race 2 for Touring Car Masters will take place at 12:00 local time/AEDT.

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