Round five signals the debut for the Touring Car Masters on the newly renovated Sydney Motorsport Park circuit and with the typical action packed racing, the start to the second half of the classic muscle cars season will no doubt be as impressive as always as three debutants join the grid, a new car hits the track for its maiden outing and many exciting names return to the popular category.
Making their Touring Car Masters debuts will be V8 Ute stars Adam Bressington and Jason Gomersall, while Australian Manfuacturers Championship and Bathurst 12 Hour personality, Peter O'Donnell makes his debut in Matt O'Brien's HQ Monaro as he returns to his muscle car heritage. Gomersall will have the challenge of a brand new entry, with the series' second Torana SL/R 5000 ready to take on the pack, while Bressington takes to the wheel of the Mason Camaro that won the 2007 series title and has recently undergone extensive work to ensure Bressington features at the pointy end.
Looking at the returning Masters, Westwood will be back on the track with his ironically named Falcon Fire Protection GTHO Falcon, that has been undergoing work since the fiery exit at the year's opening round. Class B round three winner and inaugural series champion, Steve Mason will step out of his Shelby to allow son Cameron to rejoin the action of the Masters, having past experience in a Datsun 1600 so there's no doubt it's going to become a very different experience.
The popular XA GT Falcon will be back on the grid with Collins at the helm after his impressive series debut at Phillip Island's round two earlier this year, while dual series champion Bullas and 2011 Class B champion Gary O'Brien will also return for another piece of the action, O'Brien in his yellow HQ GTS usually campaigned by Waddington Racing, while his build continues on another of the highly anticipated Torana SL/R 5000s, due to be released early next year in the original 1974 Brock Holden Dealer Team livery.
Freestone is back in his retro Camaro, and with a completely new fuel system after a frustrating debut at round four, he's ready to show his true colours. Tilley Racing are back on track with the mighty green GTHO ready to roll out under the ever-entertaining control of Brad, with Nelson making it a four strong Porsche 911 showing.
Only three of the 32 entrants have experienced the new track layout, Bowe in a Ferrari 458, Tilley in a Porsche 911 and Keene in his West, with Keene explaining.
"The track has had an exciting addition, and it's unlike anything else with the series of tight undulating turns and the uphill hairpin so it's likely going to favour the nimble Porsches which is great for the action across the category.
"It's always full on in this series, and now trying to pass on the tight and very technically challenging track is going to be even harder, needing more focus and everyone to stay on their toes to make the moves cleanly. It's definitely going to make for great racing and I think the spectators will enjoy it as much as we will from the cars."
Leading the way for the series and dominating the last round is reigning series title holder Bowe, with an 11 point buffer over 2010 series champion Richards, with Kassulke, Miedecke and Youlden rounding out the top five. In Pro-Sportsman's Class B, Stillwell sits atop the points table, having put in a dominant and very tidy start to the season, with Benson 26 points adrift in second, while Keene, Sparks and Mason close out the top five standings.
Fast Facts for TCM at Muscle Car Masters
* Sydney Motorsport Park is now 4.7km anti-clockwise post re-development, with the original Eastern Creek circuit being 3.9km
* TCM debuted at MCM in the series' inaugural year of 2007, with 2012 being their debut year on the new extended circuit
* Completed 144 race laps, being 561.6kms of racing
* Current lap record, 2011: John Bowe 1:42.0978 (1969 Ford Mustang Trans Am)
* There have been 6 race winners across 15 races over the 5 years
* Only John Bowe (Ferrari 458), Greg Keene (West) and Brad Tilley (Group N Porsche 911) have had the chance to experience the redeveloped circuit, but not in their TCM entries, so a learning experience for the field is ahead
* Drivers to make TCM series debut at MCM: Adam Bressington; Jason Gomersall; Peter O'Donnell
* Vehicles expected to make their debut at MCM: Gomersall's Holden Torana SL/R 5000
* Average race lap speed in 2007 was 129km/h, having dropped to 118km/h in 2011, due to increased competition across the field as the on track battles play out and more passing occurs
Muscle Car Masters, Eastern Creek circuit, TCM pole and race winners:
2007 – pole: Mason (1939 Chevrolet Camaro SS); race winners: Mason, Mason, Mason
2008 – pole: Bowe (1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS); race winners: Abelnica (1969 Ford Boss Mustang), Bullas (1969 Ford Boss Mustang), Bowe
2009 – pole: Bowe; race winners: Bowe, Richards (1964 Ford Falcon Sprint), Bullas
2010 – pole: Bowe (1969 Ford Mustang Trans Am); race winners: Bowe, Bowe, Miedecke (1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS)
2011 – pole: Bowe; race winners: Bowe, Bowe, Bowe
Round 5 Muscle Car Masters – TCM Schedule
Saturday 1st September
1130 - Practice 1, 20mins
1400 - Race 1, 10 laps
Sunday 2nd September
1015 - Race 2, 10 laps
1355 - Race 3, 10 laps
1610 - Tasman Trophy, Aus (TCM) v NZ (CMC), 10 laps
The Touring Car Masters is proudly supported by Shannons Insurance, Rare Spares, Unique Cars Magazine and the 2012 Australian Muscle Car Masters, with official suppliers Hoosier Tires and Australian Sports Marketing.