STEVEN JOHNSON opened his 2019 account in style, winning the first race of the new Paynter Dixon Touring Car Masters series on the streets of Adelaide.
Meanwhile, Bruce Williams added his name to the first-time winners list when he powered to victory in the Dometic Trophy Race that officially kicked off the racing season.
The first day of racing of the season was staged in scorching conditions – temperatures reaching more than 40 degrees by the start of the first championship race.
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Starting from pole, Johnson stormed to an early lead in the first championship race as the field negotiated the Senna Chicane.
Ryal Harris started second and followed Johnson through, while Bowe slipped behind a fast-starting Adam Bressington in the locally-based VDC Camaro from Whiteline Racing.
Lap two saw the Safety Car called; Andrew Fisher’s Jesus Racing / Life Choices Falcon GTHO clipping the inside barrier at turn eight – firing the car across to the outside barrier at the high-speed left hander.
Fisher climbed from the car under his own power however the car was badly damaged.
The race resumed after three laps behind the Safety Car with Johnson executing a perfect re-start in car 17, powering away to the lead.
Harris held second until he ran wide at turn five on the fifth lap; passed first by Bressington and then Bowe.
The car had clipped the tyres at turn three, bending the steering and hurting the handling for the remainder of the race – the EFS Camaro ultimately fighting home in seventh.
Johnson ultimately streaked away to win his 36th TCM race in style and open his account perfectly as he commences his search for title number three.
Bressington was a superb second, while Bowe finished third as Torana followed Mustang and Camaro to the line.
Jason Gomersall finished an excellent fourth after a quiet race, while star performer was Jim Pollicina as he stormed through the field.
Starting 14th, he was 10th by the end of the first lap and worked his way to the front thanks to a series of stout moves – ultimately climbing to fifth position and trailing Gomersall to the line.
Rob Hackwood finished sixth in the Wellpro Racing Pontiac Firebird, while Ryal Harris limped home to seventh. Paul Freestone, Bruce Williams and Aaron McGill completed the top-10.
Ryan Hansford was one of several drivers to either fail to start or not make the finish of race one.
The Multispares Camaro overheated during the earlier trophy race, and then ran rough prior to the start of the later event, the team electing to avoid risking an engine and sort it properly for race two tomorrow.
A difficult day for Marcus Zukanovic saw him retire with mechanical issues, the same situation for Allan Boughen who pulled off on the formation lap.
Gavin Bullas’ race also ended before it started as he found himself watching the start from the lane.
The Dometic Trophy Race saw Bruce Williams start from pole – in an AC Delco / Auto Action Torana that had struggled with brake issues throughout practice and qualifying.
The issues seemed to be resolved for the race, however, with the blue Torana never headed on his way to his first ever Paynter Dixon TCM victory.
Jim Pollicina finished second, while John Bowe stormed from near the very back of the 21-strong field to finish third.
Jeremy Gray – marking the debut of the TCM ‘category’ engine – was fourth in a Torana sweep of the top four positions.
Zukanovic was fifth with Paul Freestone, Andrew Fisher, Cameron Tilley, Jason Gomersall and Ryal Harris completing the top 10.
Race 2 of the 2019 season commences at 11:25pm and will be shown live on FOX Sports 506 and Kayo Sports streaming.