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A new generation hits Sandown

As the Repco Supercars Championship prepares for this weekend’s round at Sandown, which also marks the debut of Gen3 at the historic circuit.

However, 30 years ago there was a similar occurrence when the new 5.0-litre V8 formula debuted in competition at the Don’t Drink Drive Sandown 500.

To later evolve in to the Supercars formula, Group 3A was devised during 1991-1992 to take over from the now unpopular Group A regulations then being dominated by the turbocharged Godzilla Nissan R32 Skyline GT-R and Ford’s Sierra RS500 Cosworth.

Ford continued in the formula through the return of the V8 engine into its Falcon line-up and supported two teams, which went onto hold the ascendency during the first season in 1993.

Dick Johnson Racing continued with its Ford Sierras until it revealed a radical concept at Bathurst, but this never raced as it was deemed to be significantly outside the ruleset.

However, one Falcon did debut in the hands of Peter Jackson Racing’s Glenn Seton where it failed to finish, but proved a critical step in development as he managed to secure his first Australian Touring Car Championship in 1993.

The Holden Racing Team debuted two of its new specification Commodores at Sandown and scored a podium, but this didn’t bode well for its 1993 season.

Peter Brock’s Advantage Racing also fielded a newer specification Commodore as he continued as a privateer for a further season in 1993 before re-joining the factory fold the next year.

In what was a turbulent period for the Sandown event due to it lacking a number of leading touring car operations (led by Gibson Motorsport), Dick Johnson took pole in what was the third last event in the Shell Sierra.

Leading a field featuring Group A, 3A and E specification entries, the Bob Jane T-Marts Holden Commodore VL SS Group A SV of Larry Perkins took victory partnered by Steve Harrington in a race rewarding reliability.

A bright point for HRT was Tomas Mazera and Brad Jones finishing third behind the sole BMW M3 entered by Frank Gardner steered by Tony Longhurst and Paul Morris.

Of course, a year later HRT’s race was marred by a disastrous moment when crew members decided to throw a bucket of water at the windscreen of Mezera while on-track. It’s fair to say it didn’t end well.