ANOTHER tyre failure aboard an XD Ford Falcon has blown Steven Johnson’s chances of winning the third and final race in the Touring Car Masters series at Mount Panorama.
Johnson was leading comfortably on the penultimate lap of race three when the right-front tyre blew while on Conrod Straight.
The first two races of the week saw Marcus Zukanovic, also aboard an XD Falcon, suffer blowouts, including an identical failure on Conrod while leading on the penultimate lap in Race 1.
After the race, Johnson said that there were no signs of any drama with the right front before it blew.
“I know Marcus and a few others had issues in Race 1, although we were at the front, we were really looking after our tyres as much as possible, thought we were in good shape, the tyres looked really good after Race 2 for the last race,” Steven told V8 Sleuth.
“It’s weird, I had no inkling, I wasn’t over braking, I wasn’t locking any brakes, I can tell when I lock brakes because I’ve got lights that show up and tell me, no brake locks, nothing, and it literally had no inkling.
“All of a sudden, I heard a little tick on the front and then 50 metres later it went bang and exploded, so it’s pretty disappointing.
“We had one of these happen in the last race at Bathurst here in February so same sort of issue, so I don’t know what’s going on.
“Our setup is quite conservative in regard to cambers and all that sort of stuff, we never run any crazy stuff like that so it’s just one of those things.
“We will have to go to the drawing board, whether that’s a puncture related or debris related, if it was, that’s pretty unlucky.”
Johnson had finished seventh in the trophy race and then won the first two races of the week, with the car looking comfortable on the Mount Panorama circuit.
Johnson led from the front in Race 3 with the win looking likely until the tyre problem, ending his race entirely.
This also cost Johnson the round win to Bowe, who finished race three in third, and a potential 200th race win for Ford in TCM, which debuted as a category back in 2007.
Despite the disappointing end to the weekend, Johnson says that he is proud of the work that has been put into the car to get it on track and something for the fans to cheer on.
“Although it’s been disappointing at the end, it’s been a very successful weekend for us, and we can be pretty proud of where we have got the car to,” he said.
“It’s been a long tough road to get it to where it is and get the car setup the way we want it.
“It’s still not quite there, it’s still not quite nice enough to drive for my liking, we still have work to do with the setup and everything but we have made a massive step forward between Bathurst [in February] and here over the course of that nine months.
“Every race lap that we did then, every race that we have done all weekend was faster than we qualified out here in February, so it’s a pretty big step forward, so we are pretty happy with it all.
“We can be proud of what we have done and I am proud of the car and I am proud of the supporters that we have got and we just love being up there, giving them something to cheer for and to give them something to roll back memory lane back to 1981, which is really cool.”