The mystery behind DJR’s 1990 Bathurst defeat

A failed captain’s call, a defiant driver and a touch of sabotage played a part in turning a potential 1990 Bathurst 1000 victory for Dick Johnson Racing into a defeat.

The mystery behind DJR’s 1990 Bathurst defeat

More than 30 years on from the 1990 Great Race, fresh light has been shed as to how DJR let slip a chance to score a memorable victory at Mount Panorama for the iconic DJR Shell Ford Sierra.

It will be forever etched in history that the Holden Racing Team Commodore of Allan Grice and Win Percy would conquer the Mountain in 1990 while the #18 sister DJR Sierra of then BTCC driver Jeff Allam and a fresh faced Paul Radisich came home second.

However, it could have been oh so different for DJR and the blue oval faithful on the Mountain that October day.

Speaking in interview for Autosport recounting the now retired Allam’s 45 year career, the Briton has revealed his side of events in what turned out to be the victory that got away.

Following three attempts as part of Tom Walkinshaw’s operation, in Rover (he scored a class win with Hahne), Jaguar XJS and Holden Commodore, Allam had proved himself enough to receive a call-up from Australian touring car legend Dick Johnson.

After finishing eighth alongside fellow BTCC ace Robb Gravett in 1989, Allam was teamed with the talented but then-little-known Kiwi Radisich for 1990, and it would prove to be one of the most controversial races of his career.

The much-fancied pairing of Johnson and John Bowe retired the sister car due to a turbo failure with 67 laps remaining, which sparked the start of a peculiar turn of events.

“We were going well. We were obviously not allowed to run the boost that Dick and John were allowed to use in their car. We were actually leading, but there was some commotion in the pits,” Allam told Motorsport.com.

"We had made a bit of a wrong tyre call where we put it on intermediates/wets when we should have stuck with dries. Two-thirds into the race I was told over the radio, ‘Can you put the seat back as Dick is going to get in’. I was thinking Paul and me had done all the hard work, we were on course to finish on the podium, and at that moment we were winning.

“The cars in those days had sliding seats with a little adjustable notch that you pulled to move it backwards and forwards. I was thinking, ‘How can I not let Dick in the car?’ I bent the bar down so the seat wouldn’t adjust, so when I came into the pits the seat was well forward for Paul and me and it wouldn’t move.

"In the end we lost about 30 seconds in the pits, which would have won us the race, but in the end Paul got back in. When I returned to the paddock after the race I pulled the lever back up and it worked perfectly.

"If you get on the podium at Bathurst you’ve done a good job. I was disappointed not to win it as we threw the chances away with the seat and the tyre call. We would have won it; we definitely had the fastest car.”

Allam would go on to make two more appearances at the Bathurst 1000 in 1993 with John Blanchard and in 1994 driving an Allan Moffat run Ford EB Falcon alongside Andrew Miedecke, with the pair finishing eighth.

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