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Phillip Island is a critical round in the Kumho V8 Touring Car Series - Photo: Rhys Vandersyde

Phillip Island is a critical round in the Kumho V8 Touring Car Series – Photo: Rhys Vandersyde

AN ALL-IMPORTANT fourth round of the Kumho Tyre Australian V8 Touring Car Series will help plot the way the title plays out in 2017.

While Brad Jones Racing’s Jack Smith leads the series by 99 points heading into the penultimate round, the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit will see his two nearest rivals putting on as much pressure as possible to keep the title alive into Sydney’s season finale’ this October.

Smith was imperious last time out at Queensland Raceway, scoring pole and three race victories to emphatically put his mark on the Kumho Series title chase.

It was the first clean-sweep of the season and Smith’s second round victory in a row, following earlier success at Winton.

Jordon Boys sits second in the championship but won the series’ opener held at Phillip Island in April earlier this year.

Taking advantage of a puncture on race leader’s Tyler Greenbury’s Eggleston Motorsport Commodore, Boys powered his Image Racing BF Falcon to victory in the third race of that round – doing enough to take the weekend by a solitary point.

Boys then finished third at Winton and fifth at Queensland to retain second in the standings with two rounds remaining.

Greenbury has been the hard-luck story of the season, winning four races this year but losing two rounds almost within sight of the chequered flag – including at the season opener.

A strong consistent weekend at Queensland Raceway saw the young Queenslander grab third overall in the Sunshine state – and his earlier form at the Island will give him hope for another strong weekend this time around.

Michael Anderson sits fourth in the championship, the impressive Bathurst-based driver now a regular frontrunner following his upgrade to an ex-FPR BF Falcon at the start of the season.

Anderson’s relationship with his new car got off to the best possible start when he scored his maiden Kumho Series pole at Phillip Island earlier this year – taking advantage of a drying track and a perfectly-timed lap to grab the top spot.

He’s also in the thick of a close battle for the Kumho Cup class honours this year with fellow privateer runner, Jon McCorkindale.

Though the driver from country New South Wales endured a torrid time last time out in Queensland, he trails Anderson by only 64 points with plenty of racing to come, while two fourths at the Phillip Island season opener will give cause for optimism as well.

Jordon Boys’ Image Racing teammate Josh Smith was another to enjoy a strong weekend the last time the series raced at Phillip Island – improving from 11th in qualifying to finish sixth in race one and a stunning second in race two to kickstart his season in style.

A consistent run since then has him within striking distance of the title’s top three heading into the final two rounds.

Outside of the key title protagonists, the Phillip Island field includes plenty of familiar faces.

After spending much of their weekend in Queensland racing wheel-to-wheel, Michael Caine (ex-Tasman VE Holden) and Chris Smerdon (ex-SBR FG Falcon) will continue their battle at Phillip Island, while Caine’s teammate Jim Pollicina will be looking to bounce back from a tough trip to the sunshine state to enable his chase of a top-six finish in the championship to continue.

Steven Page, Leigh Moran and Garry Hills all return to the series while noted Victorian racer Gary Collins will make his second start of the 2017 season in his stunning ex-Jack Daniel’s Racing / Kelly Racing Commodore.

Vectra Corp. Heritage Class leader Bradley Neill will also return in his ex-Parsons VS Commodore.

Kumho V8 Touring Car Series Entry List – Round 4 – Phillip Island

2 Kumho Cup Page Bros. Jayco Steven Page Commodore VE ll
7 Kumho Cup Mocomm Motorsports Communications Jim Pollicina Commodore VE
11 Kumho Cup Kenwood Homes Michael Anderson Ford Falcon FG
14 Championship Image Racing/Lubrimaxx Josh Smith Ford Falcon FG
16 Kumho Cup Image Racing/Lubrimaxx Leigh Moran Ford Falcon BA
21 Championship Brad Jones Racing/SCT Logistics Jack Smith Commodore VE ll
23 Kumho Cup Massel Michael Caine Commodore VE
38 Championship Eggleston Motorsport Tyler Greenbury Commodore VE ll
39 Kumho Cup Vectra Corp Chris Smerdon Ford Falcon FG
49 Championship Image Racing/Lubrimaxx Jordan Boys Ford Falcon FG
55 Heritage Neill Motorsport Bradley Neill Commodore VS
69 Kumho Cup Dial Before You Dig/Mac Motorsport Jon McCorkindale Ford Falcon BF
76 Kumho Cup Elite Crete Systems Australia Garry Hills Commodore VE ll
77 Kumho Cup Protrack Automotive Performance Gary Collins Commodore VE ll

We’ve got more of the latest national motorsport news in the next issue of Auto Action magazine, on sale Thursday. We’ll also keep you update with all the action from the Shannons Nationals at Phillip Island, including a livestream, on our website throughout the weekend. Make sure follow us on social media FacebookTwitter, Instagram or our Weekly Newsletter.