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When Peter Brock broke the Holden Racing Team’s hoodoo

To say the Holden Racing Team endured a turbulent start is an understatement, but this was more than made up for during its era of dominance starting in the mid-1990s and it started when Peter Brock took the squad’s first round win at Eastern Creek in 1994.

Formed out of an agreement with British racing legend Tom Walkinshaw after ending its long-time relationship with Brock prior to the 1987 season, it was Larry Perkins the following season flying the flag for Holden as Walkinshaw worked on the next iteration of Commodore.

Perkins remained until the end of 1988 before only contesting the final two rounds of 1989 in his private Commodore. This was two more than the Holden Racing Team competed as for the next five seasons the operation only contested part campaigns until the V8 Group 3A formula was introduced for 1993.

Employing high profile 1987 World 500cc Motorcycle Championship winner Wayne Gardner as driver alongside the loyal Tomas Mezera appeared a spirited decision, however the ‘Wollongong Whiz’ was involved in multiple incidents during the year to earn the title ‘Captain Chaos’.

In one of his final outings for the team, Gardner and co-driver Brad Jones scored a podium at Bathurst before he purchased Bob Forbes Racing to enter his own Coke-backed outfit for 1994.

As for Brock, he had toiled away with BMW in 1988 and joined Formula Sierra for 1989 before reverting to a Commodore for 1991 partnering up in a two-car operation with Perkins. Branching out on his own with Advantage Racing for 1992, Brock achieved Holden’s first Australian Touring Car Championship race win in six years since his Holden Dealer Team success at Surfers Paradise International Raceway in 1986.

Continuing with Advantage Racing again in 1993 led to Brock putting some great drives together ending in a second for the round at Oran Park’s finale. However, with his loyal backing from Mobil moves were afoot to return Brock to the Holden factory fold and he did just that in 1994.

It was a great start to the association for Brock as he finished third at Amaroo Park and at Symmons Plains for Round 3, while seconds were achieved at Sandown as well as Phillip Island to place him well.

Lakeside and Winton weren’t too kind to Brock leaving three rounds remaining to gain some points on second placed Glenn Seton.

Getting off to a great start, Brock qualified on pole on a 1m 32.740s to be just 0.110s clear of Gardner. Surviving the Peter Jackson Dash, Brock led the opening race from start to finish as Seton spun battling with Skaife, who took second from the Castrol Commodore of Perkins.

Brock was forced to watch his mirror in Race 2 as Seton’s teammate Alan Jones closed in during the late stages of the race, but the Holden Racing Team driver prevailed to take the squad’s very first round victory.

Jones beat Skaife into second as the latter effectively sealed his second Australian Touring Car Championship title.

For the Holden Racing Team, it proved a breakthrough as Brock finished third in the title and was a contender for 1995 before Craig Lowndes arrived full-time in 1996 after two staring performances at Bathurst where he finished a narrow second on debut in 1994, then scored pole the next year.

Holden’s factory squad became a dominant operation winning six out of seven titles between 1996 and 2002, including three Bathurst 1000 victories.