1988 ETCC RAC TOURIST TROPHY SILVERSTONE
DICK JOHNSON / JOHN BOWE
After what could only be described as a character-building year in 1987 as his new-look Shell Ultra-Hi team learnt the finer points of Sierra turbos, Queensland Ford hero Dick Johnson was the class of the field when it came time to line up in 1988. He and new team mate John Bowe dominated the Australian Touring Car Championship in their pair of red Sierras, winning eight of the nine rounds to finish 1-2 in the championship.
But before the Australian Group A touring car teams headed to the traditional endurance events at Sandown and Bathurst, Johnson and his squad had a plan to attack the best the world could muster. With the backing of long-time supporter Ross Palmer and Shell, he and Bowe headed to England to compete in round 10 of the European Touring Car Championship on the Grand Prix circuit at Silverstone for the highly prestigious RAC Tourist Trophy.
What they came up against was the cream of the crop in world touring car racing. The Texaco Eggenberger Sierras as well as examples from Brit ace Andy Rouse and German squad Wolf Racing were there and so too were Aussie Allan Grice and Brit Win Percy in the works Nissan Skyline.
Tom Walkinshaw was present and accounted for in his new VL V8 Commodore, giving Johnson the chance he so desperately wanted. The former Bathurst winner simply wanted to prove he had the fastest touring car in the world, and blowing the best in the business into the Silverstone weeds was the perfect result for what essentially was something of an ego trip.
As Johnson described in his 1989 biography, ‘Dick Johnson – The Real Story of a Folk Hero’: “We went there to gauge our performance against the Europeans and to stick it up the people who dealt it to us so badly at Bathurst in ’87, just to show them we’re not the d***heads they think we are. The name of the game was to make (Ruedi) Eggenberger and (Andy) Rouse look really second-hand and, without blowing bags, that’s exactly what we did. We absolutely pis*ed off and left them, and I think Allan Moffat could probably thank us for getting Eggenberger over for Bathurst in 1988 to have another shot at us!” Johnson put the #41 Sierra on pole comfortably, four-tenths faster than the Eggenberger car of Steve Soper/Pierre Dieudonne. He had them completely beaten for pace.
Come race day for the 105-lap race and again the Australian Sierra was fastest, beginning with the pre-race warm-up session. When the race kicked off, Johnson simply disappeared and built up a sizeable lead before handing over to Bowe at the first pit stop. The Tasmanian cut back through the traffic and was assured of re-taking the lead once the leaders had made their first stop, until fluctuating engine temperatures forced him to the pits to check things out.
Johnson rejoined after a long stop but a water pump had failed and effectively ended their day. They finished 21st, eight laps down on winners Rouse and Alain Ferte. While the European adventure ended in retirement, the world knew that the fastest Sierras in the world were red, and they came from Australia.
Biante Model Cars are very pleased to be able to present the opportunity to place your orders for the 1:18 Scale Ford Sierra RS500, driven by Dick Johnson and John Bowe in the 1988 European Touring Car Championship RAC Tourist Trophy at Silverstone, England. This model forms part of the Biante Dick Johnson Collection and features new toolings specific to this race car including the exhaust and front brake ducts. It is another beautiful replica from a historic period of racing where the Ford Sierra RS500’s were a dominant force in world motorsport.