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Bowe to depart Touring Car Masters

THE 2023 season of Touring Car Masters will be John Bowe’s 16th and last year of racing full-time in the category.

This year will represent a final celebratory ‘Testimonial Tour’ for the six-time series champion, who began racing in TCM in 2008 following the end of his decorated ATCC/Supercars career.

But don’t call it a ‘retirement’.

“I’m not retiring: I probably won’t ever retire. It’s just ‘ciao for now’ from TCM in a sense of competing in every round,” Bowe said.

“I’m not ruling out more racing in the category: If someone throws me the keys to a car for a round here or there I’d find it impossible to say no!

“I love Touring Car Masters. It has been and continues to be a very important part of my life, both in Motorsport and beyond that.

“I have spoken before about how important it was to go back to racing following my retirement from Supercars in 2007 and it was TCM that filled that hole in my life for me. I’ve had an incredible time, made many new friends and been able to compete with many old ones along the way.

“The racing is sensational; the cars are great to drive and the competition is fantastic but the vibe in the paddock is the best thing about it. It’s great fun car racing. Everyone is enthusiastic and the fans love the category which makes it all the better to turn up at each round knowing you’re putting on a show people enjoy watching.

“This year felt like the right time to step back from the full-time campaign and have a look at some other things I want to do in motorsport.

“I’ll go racing with my mate Joe (Calleja) in historic racing, do some endurance races I enjoy like the Bathurst 6 Hour and other bits and pieces.”

Bowe has been a mainstay of TCM since its second season in 2008.

John Bowe at the wheel of ‘Mustang Sally’ at Hidden Valley in Darwin in 2010. Photo: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith.

Initially contending aboard a Chevrolet Camaro, Bowe made a crucial switch to a Ford Mustang for the 2010 season.

He earnt his first TCM titles aboard the machine, dubbed ‘Mustang Sally’, in 2011 and 2012 as he became the category’s benchmark.

Bowe earnt one last title aboard ‘Sally’ in 2014 before switching to a Holden Torana for 2015 – and winning two more titles on the bounce.

His sixth series victory came in 2021, and last year he finished second to first-time champion Ryan Hansford.

Bowe holds TCM records for most titles (six), race wins (104), round wins (41), podium finishes (70), pole positions (53) and front row starts (77), and he has finished in the top three in the championship in 14 of the 15 TCM seasons he’s taken part in so far.

Appropriately, another milestone will fall on home soil as Bowe’s Testimonial Tour gets underway.

Bowe claimed his sixth TCM title in 2021. Pic: Supplied

The opening round at next month’s AWC Race Tasmania will be Bowe’s 100th TCM round, the first time any driver has notched up a century of round starts in the category.

“I’m really looking forward to the season ahead to say thanks to the fans, the fellow racers, the sponsors, the supporters, and everyone who has supported my 15-odd years in the category.

“Starting in Tasmania and at Symmons Plains, the place where I started watching racing as a kid, will be especially special and I hope everyone gets out to that event in February,” Bowe said.

“I really want to say thank you to all the people who have supported my time in the category, and my racing in general. It’s been a fantastic and very important part of my life.

“I hope all the fans and long time followers and friends come to as many rounds they can in 2023 and come and say Hello and ‘Ciao for now’.”

The 2023 Touring Car Masters season gets underway at AWC Race Tasmania on February 24-26.

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