Hansford savouring thrilling TCM title bout

The Gulf Western Oil Touring Car Masters has three rounds remaining in the 2021 season, with a tight battle at the top of the standings.

After three rounds, Australian motorsport veteran John Bowe in the Paynter Dixon/Payce Holden Torana currently leads the way on 445 points, just 10 points ahead of Ryan Hansford. Hansford has enjoyed his best season in the category since joining in 2017 thanks to three wins in nine official races and three Trophy races.

With just three rounds to go, the Multispares Racing driver will enter the next meeting at Sandown Raceway full of confidence after securing his most proficient weekend of the season during the most recent round at Sydney Motorsport Park.

The Queenslander qualified on pole position and steered his Torana to two consecutive victories, before falling just short of Steve Johnston in the final race of the weekend.

Photo: Jack Martin

As Bowe was unable to find his rhythm at Eastern Creek with just one podium, it enabled Hansford back into the title race – one that he is thrilled to be a part of.

“It is a good feeling fighting for the title – a bit of a dream come true,” Hansford said.

“I am not getting my hopes up though because I am unsure as to whether we will be able to race in the future and what will happen to the season if we can’t complete the remaining three rounds.

“Unfortunately the big break in between rounds is also letting my rivals get an opportunity to catch up and improve their cars through more testing sessions, but I will just have to adapt.

“John (Bowe) is doing a great job this year. I think it’s amazing that he is still racing and he is still competitive, I take my hat off to him. I don’t think there is anyone in Australia who has been racing at the top level for as long as he has.

“Touring Car Masters is a cool category and it’s been enjoyable racing against him, Steve and some of the other guys. It’s a really good thing to be a part of.” Like many drivers around the country, Hansford is just itching to get back to racing again and continue his good run of form.

John Bowe leads the 2021 Gulf Western Oil Touring Car Masters.

While the 39-year-old has plenty of experience at Sandown (round four) and fared well at Bathurst (round six) earlier this year, he has yet to make an appearance at The Bend Motorsport Park – the location for the season’s penultimate round.

However, the series is scheduled for the South Australian circuit as part of the first Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships round there in October, giving Hansford lots of time to prepare.

And although he has never raced at The Bend before, he believes he should have no major issues with the right preparation.

“I am looking forward to The Bend,” Hansford added.

“It seems like it’s a difficult track to learn, but I think the car is well suited to there and it’s a fast and flowing track, which should be good for us.

“Preparation for The Bend will be the same as any other round, the only difference being that we will spend more time at home watching as much vision as we can to learn it.

“The car is awesome at the moment since we made changes in 2020 and we’ve unlocked some real pace in it – it’s just a matter of applying it for the remaining rounds.”

The Gulf Western Oil Touring Car Masters’ next round will be at Sandown Raceway with the Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships on 17-19 September.