by Bruce Williams

The upcoming Sandown Touring Car Masters races will mark the return of Keith Kassulke and his big silver Ford Falcon XB GT Hardtop.

Undoubtedly one of the most popular cars in the series, the impressive Silver Falcon, hasn’t raced in a few years, however, Kassulke will join an expanding TCM grid when the series returns to the iconic Victorian venue next week.

The car is being prepped by the experienced Gary O’Brien and his team at Bendigo Retro Muscle Cars, the same team that handles John Bowe’s Holden Torana.

Keith Kassulke, Ford Falcon XB GT hardtop leads Tony Karanfilovski in a Mustang and another XB GT Falcon hardtop driven by Eddie Albinca at Sandown

“It’s going to be great! I’m really looking forward to being at Sandown again and I know it may be my last time racing there, but I hope not.

“It’s a fantastic circuit and I’m sure the XB will be a popular addition to the series as they’ve been absent from the grid for a few years. He was always quick at Sandown so we’ll see how he goes against the new-build TCM cars.”

“The car hasn’t been raced in a few years, but Gary and his team are working hard on the XB to get it back in excellent condition and I’m looking forward to driving it again.”

“If the package works out well, I’ll be looking to get into the TCM races at Bathurst.” Kassulke said.

The XB was built by the late Jim Morton and in 2011 the iconic Falcon was first raced by Glenn Seton at Sydney Motorsport Park that year.

In the hands of Seton and the #30 sports car, the car won the Bathurst round in 2011, giving Seton a famous victory on Sunday in October at Mount Panorama, and he qualified on pole in the street event at Sydney Olympic Park later that year.

The car was purchased by Kassulke, who had previously made his TCM debut driving an HQ Monaro GTS, in time for the 2012 season and in his capable hands finished on the podium twice that season, finishing third at Queensland Raceway and Bathurst.

Keith Kassulke and his big silver Ford Falcon XB GT Hardtop lead the field at Phillip Island

Kassulke then took pole position and finished second at Queensland Raceway in 2013, taking pole position again at Sandown before winning that year’s season finale at Phillip Island, his first win in the series.

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He took two race wins on the high-speed Victorian circuit that weekend, claiming the overall round victory ahead of the similar coupe of Eddie Abelnica and Tony Edwards, driving the Monaro.

The result helped Kassulke finish fourth in the championship, behind Jim Richards, John Bowe and Andrew Miedecke, and the top Pro-Am driver.

Elevated to the Pro class in 2014, Kassulke finished third in the championship behind only Bowe and Miedecke.

He scored a further three podium finishes in the 2014 and early 2015 seasons before an accident at Queensland Raceway badly damaged the car, forcing it to be parked while it was repaired.

Some seven years later, the car will return to racing at Sandown, while Kassulke will be making his first TCM start since the 2017 season, where he raced his HQ Monaro GTS 350 at selected rounds.

Papua New Guinea-based Kassulke has continued to build on his wealth of racing experience since his last participation in the series, including two class wins at the Bathurst 12 Hours driving a MARC 11 Mustang.

He also ran his 1969 Chevrolet Camaro at The Bend recently in the NC Historic class, finishing third and second in the first two races before a differential failure in race 3 ended the weekend.

All four Gulf Western Oil TCM races will air live and ad-free next weekend on Stan Sports, as part of its massive coverage of the SpeedSeries/Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships event at Sandown.

The first championship race on Saturday afternoon will also be broadcast live on broadcast television on the Nine Network. Tickets are still on sale for the event and can be purchased at motorsportickets.com.au

For the latest news and features, pick up a copy of AUTO ACTION at your local outlet or available here digitally – the independent voice of Australian motorsport.

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