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One win, but what a win

Dick Johnson barely had success in his Ford Mustang at the start of the Group A era, but the sole win it had was in front of the world’s best in Adelaide.

Johnson’s 1985 Australian Touring Car Championship campaign was moderately successful considering the dominance of Jim Richards in the JPS BMW 635csi, a much more developed weapon compared to the Zakspeed Mustang.

Runner up was the result after a retirement at Winton for the opening round, he failed to make the podium just once at Surfers Paradise International Raceway and even than he finished fourth.

His Australian Endurance Championship campaign was hampered by reliability problems including the wheel falling off while in a strong position during the Pepsi 250 at Oran Park, but a seventh place at Bathurst partnered by Larry Perkins and a good run at Surfers Paradise led to a form change.

This was occurring at a good time due as Australia’s biggest motorsport event to that point, the inaugural Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide was next on the schedule.

Johnson qualified on pole and dominated from the outset in a packed field including the HDT led by Peter Brock, Colin Bond in the Ignis Alfa Romeo, the all conquering JPS BMW of Jim Richards and another for Charlie O’Brien, Terry Finnigan in a privateer Commodore, Kevin Bartlett in the factory Mitsubishi Starion and even Austrian F1 star Gerhard Berger driving a Bob Jane-sponsored BMW.

Against this stacked field Johnson was the class albeit Brock challenged him towards the end before running wide at the final corner on the penultimate lap, while HDT teammate John Harvey turfed Berger into the sand trap at Turn 1.

It proved the Mustang’s only success as turbochargers became the dominant force in 1986, leaving even Richards in the BMW floundering.

Sixth was Johnson’s championship result in 1986, before the advent of Sierra in 1987.