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Albert Park welcomes the sound of V8s

The Repco Supercars Championship joins the ultimate class of global motorsport as support to the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix on March 21-24, but back in 1996 the V8s were part of the inaugural event at Albert Park.

It was a controversial move when Melbourne ‘stole’ the Grand Prix from Adelaide as the South Australian capital was regarded since its inception in 1985 as a favourite among the Formula 1 circus.

Touring cars continued to be a feature of the support cast starting in Group A in 1985 heading into the Group 3A regulations starting in late-1992 moving to 1993.

Memorable moments include Dick Johnson winning the inaugural event, with John Harvey spinning Grand Prix driver Gerhard Berger in the same race, Mark Skaife writing off a GT-R in 1990 in addition to the battle between Larry Perkins and John Bowe in the wet during the 1994 edition.

Albert Park held a rich history of motorsport back in the 1950s hosting the Australian Grand Prix in 1953, but run in the opposite direction to the current layout.

Before it was known as V8 Supercars, the 5.0 Litre Touring Cars hit Albert Park with 30 entries and Glenn Seton set pole in the Ford Credit Racing EL Falcon on a 2m 00.682 just ahead of the similar Castrol example of Tony Longhurst.

Prior to the opening race, discussions centred around potential brake troubles due to the heavy stops the Albert Park layout contained.

Peter Brock made the best jump to slot into second for the opening race behind Seton as Wayne Gardner spun at Turn 3 despite a clean route through the opening corners.

Mark Skaife in the Sega Gibson Motorsport Commodore challenged Brock early, but spun at Turn 3 and became stuck in the gravel trap from third.

The race at the front between Seton and Brock was intense, but it was the Ford holding a slight advantage on the straights as John Bowe led the Dick Johnson Racing charge in third.

Positions were like this until the line as Craig Lowndes in the second Holden Racing Team Commodore and Alan Jones for Pack Leader Racing completed the top five.

Unlike Race 1, there was chaos at the opening chicane with Lowndes and Longhurst spinning off, while Jones took out privateer John Faulkner at Turn 3.

It led to a classic battle between Brock and Bowe for the win, with the DJR Falcon making a move at Turn 15 only to run wide.

As the leading two contenders held themselves up, Seton and Russell Ingall lurked, but it was Brock taking victory in addition to the round.

Of course the Supercars have been a fixture of the Australian Grand Prix ever since, bar a couple of years in the 2000s and in 2018 it became a championship event.