GREG Murphy piloted a Dick Johnson Racing Ford Sierra to a clean sweep of the Archibalds Historic Touring Cars races at the Skope Classic.
The New Zealand event has grown into one of the premier historic touring car events in recent years, with the 2021 edition at Mike Pero Motorsport Park in Christchurch drawing nearly 30 cars across international Group A, Super Touring, Schedule S and Group N touring car eras.
The four-time Bathurst 1000 winner battled hard in each sprint with the Nissan GT-R of Stuart Rogers, but the latter’s retirement from the opening race paved the way for Murphy to head home son Ronan in the six-lapper, the latter piloting a Super Touring-era Nissan Primera.
The car Murphy raced is the sixth and last Ford Sierra built by Dick Johnson Racing and was purchased last year by Lance Coupland, managing director of the popular Christchurch-based Coupland’s Bakery chain.
“For me the weekend has been great because I have got to drive an iconic piece of Australasian motorsport history and have an amazing time with a bunch of cool people amongst such a stunning event and what it represents,” Murphy said.
“Think of sitting on some sort of missile fired from a fighter jet. Then it’s like trying to stop a 60-tonne truck from a speed it shouldn’t be travelling, and with brakes that aren’t working.
“But hey, that’s what they were like in the day and what is awesome about it. These cars created an aura about them, being a wild and unforgiving weapon and they were and still are. It is so awesome to still have that and the ability to see it, which the fans have loved.”
Built new in 1990, the car served as the team’s #17 entry in the 1990 and 1991 Bathurst 1000s and was Johnson’s car throughout the 1992 Australian Touring Car Championship, the last where the turbocharged RS500 version of the Sierra was eligible to compete.
The car spent time in Western Australia and in Queensland prior to its purchase by Melbourne enthusiast Chris Stillwell, who commissioned Classic Motorsport’s Euan McDonald to restore it to take part in Heritage Touring Car events.
It was then purchased and campaigned in historic events by Terry Lawlor, and spent time last year on display at the National Motor Racing Museum at Mount Panorama as part of its exhibition celebrating 40 years of Dick Johnson Racing before being dispatched to its new owner.
Joining Murphy on the grid was fellow Kiwi legend Paul Radisich aboard his World Cup-winning Super Touring-spec Ford Mondeo.
Despite having to start at the back of the field after missing Friday’s qualifying session, Radisich moved quickly forward to register a pair of top-10 finishes across the weekend.