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How historic day laid foundation for DJR wildcard

DICK Johnson Racing’s trip to Queensland Raceway on May 30 last year was all about a momentous family occasion – but quietly it laid the foundations for the Ford squad’s next big thing.

Understandably, the focus that day was on Jett Johnson driving a DJR Supercar, and at one point sharing the track with father Steven and grandfather Dick.

What followed, once the spotlight was turned down a tad, was an evaluation day for Jett, as well as Thomas Sargent and Kai Allen.

Adding to the occasion, the trio were driving the spare DJR Gen2 Mustang which was being handed over to its new owner Michael Anderson for the purpose of a privateer wildcard bid.

Jett is now plying his trade in Super3; Sargent has headed overseas and is impressing in Porsche Carrera Cup North America; while Allen this month became the youngest ever Super2 round winner and the centrepiece of DJR’s maiden Bathurst 1000 wildcard.

DJR team principal Ben Croke reflected on just how quickly Allen made his mark.

“Right from the first time we met him,” Croke told media following the wildcard announcement on Tuesday.

“He came to the workshop with a couple of the guys that were going to drive the car; the manner in which he approached the test, the questions that he asked in the lead-up to that day…

“His time came to hop in the car and he didn’t go out to try to set the world on fire straight up, he built up to it but in a reasonable manner.

“Just the way he approached that whole day and the lap times that he did at the end of the day, it was really impressive to see for someone who I think was only 16 at the time when he did that evaluation day with us.

“So a 16-year-old with the calmness and maturity and the way he approached the day, and then everything that he has done from the time he drove that car has just improved.

“It has been a pleasure to watch from the sidelines having been able to give him that opportunity back in May last year, and now to be able give him another opportunity is something exciting.”

Kai Allen in the spare Dick Johnson Racing Gen2 Mustang last year at Queensland Raceway. Pic: Matthew Paul Photography

Allen himself described the evaluation as a “great learning curve in my career” and is already plotting how to best prepare for his Great Race debut.

“I’ll spend a lot of time with them behind the scenes and make sure I do as much as I can to be ready,” said the South Australian, who recently turned 18.

“I’m just excited, we have still got Sandown in the (Eggleston Motorsport) Super2 car before then so it will be good to get a few more miles under my belt in racing conditions and then we have got a couple of test days coming up.

“I’m excited to jump in it and hopefully we can have a good run.”

Allen, who’ll share the #98 Shell V-Power Mustang with Simona De Silvestro, is understood to be under contract for the next couple of years with DJR.

That makes for a possible 2025 ascension into a full-time main game seat, given the Stapylton squad has confirmed Will Davison and Anton De Pasquale as its 2024 drivers.

Simona De Silvestro and Kai Allen

V8 Sleuth’s ongoing coverage of the Dunlop Series for Super2 and Super3 is proudly presented by Biante – Fuel your passion with winning model cars. Visit Biante here to check out their range of model cars in a range of scales from 1:64 to 1:10.

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