14 November 2014 | General


JIM RICHARDS’ quest to win back-to-back ENZED Touring Car Masters titles has come to an abrupt end following practice today at Phillip Island.

Richards’ Shannons-supported Ford Falcon Sprint has been withdrawn from the final round of the 2014 series after suffering engine dramas in the opening practice session leaving long-time rival John Bowe with a relatively clear path to the 2014 ProMasters title.

Richards’ noticed a drop in power early in the first of two sessions today and shut the car down before further damage was done – engine guru Mick Webb diagnosing a suspected broken piston as the cause after the session.  

“Jim was good enough to notice things weren’t right and switch it off before it blew up†Webb said.

Despite the setback Richards’ has already turned his attention to 2015 when he will make the highly anticipated return of the popular AMC Javelin to the TCM series.

“The Javelin is done it’s basically ready to go and it’s all complete†Richards said.

“Things like this can’t be helped but that’s the way it goes. I’d really like to totally restore the Falcon next year so we’ll race the Javelin from the opening round.

“I’m really looking forward to the next season already.â€Â

With Richards on the sidelines Bowe dominated today’s pair of practice sessions by lapping comfortably under the existing TCM qualifying record.

His best lap 1m42.4954s was 0.8s quicker than the second-quickest Andrew Miedecke and easily under the TCM race lap record set last year by Holden driver Les Walmsley.

Bowe’s speed today puts him one step closer to achieving another new TCM record having scored pole position at each of the six rounds contested so far this season.

Bathurst round winner Greg Crick Torana driver Jason Gomersall and Mustang pilot Tony Karanfilovski completed today’s combined top five fastest runners.

With Richards’ out of the equation Bowe’s next nearest rival ahead of tomorrow’s opening race will be Ford Falcon racer Keith Kassulke (97.5 points behind) and Andrew Miedecke who sits 132.5 points from the lead.

180 points are up for grabs across the three races this weekend.

Karanfilovski was fastest of the ProAm class runners today and will need to have a perfect weekend to have any hopes of winning his class this season.

The Victorian currently sits 157 points behind class leader Mark King entering the final round; King lapping comfortably inside the top-10 in both sessions today.

The ProSports class will also be decided this weekend with second-placed Cameron Mason topping the class results today – and also taking his No.3 Mustang inside the top-10 overall.

Class leader Chris Stilwell ended his day 15th fastest in practice two.

ENZED Touring Car Masters cars will return to the circuit on two occasions tomorrow – the grid to be determined at 10:50am local time ahead of the opening race commencing at 3:30pm.

Race one will be broadcast live around Australian on the 7 network tomorrow afternoon between the pair of V8 Supercars super sprint races.

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