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homologation freedoms, the 240T was seriously com-
petitive but a drivetrain failure stopped it while leading
the former and electrical issues hobbled it while shad-
owing the latter’s eventual winner.
“The car was sensational at Sandown and Bathurst,”
says Francevic. “At Bathurst I was following John
Goss in the Jaguar and I was happy sitting in behind
because, well, it’s a long race, but then the damn alter-
nator went. We were a little team and in those types of
races just one thing needs to go wrong.
“That first time at Bathurst was our best shot and
an opportunity missed. For us it’s our big race – you’ve
got to wait a whole year to have another crack at it. I’m
disappointed I never won there.”
There was no guarantee at that stage the Volvo
attack would go further than that promising 1985.
Petch had hoped to snare factory support for 1986 and
when it proved unforthcoming, he considered putting
the 240T up for sale.
Francevic, though, convinced his friend to give the
first couple of ATCC rounds a go, under the guise of a
winning car being easier to sell than one up on blocks.
It was another case of serendipity leading to better
things: Francevic won the first two rounds at Amaroo
Park and Symmons Plains to lead the title race, then
hopes of factory backing suddenly crystalised with the
sale of the team to Volvo Australia. John Sheppard,
who’d once led the Holden Dealer Team, was brought
in to run the show.
The new factory-backed outfit made its debut in
the third round at Sandown, running under the Volvo
Dealer Team moniker. The 240T (still the 1985 car) was
refreshed with a new blue-and-white colour scheme
and Francevic, while having to settle for second in the
race behind George Fury in the increasingly rapid new
Nissan Skyline, consolidated his championship lead. It
looked like the start of something big. But it was actu-
ally the beginning of the end. While things looked on
the up for the new team with the addition of a second
240T for John Bowe, beneath the surface relationships
“John Sheppard had gone through that era where
the factory did all the updating and we get into Group
A and he produces this beautiful team,” says Francevic.
“I said to him, ‘Hey, we’ve got to develop this car, if we
don’t develop we’ll go backwards’.
“We had major arguments about it; it was a total
“At Adelaide I actually broke into the workshop and
changed a spring. I had asked him if I could put an odd
spring on the left-front as there was a curve that was
banked, sort of like an oval.
“I said that’s just going to tear the tyre but he
wouldn’t allow me to change the car. So me and a
mechanic broke in and changed it.”
Francevic won that Adelaide race from 10th on the
grid and continued racking up solid points to take a
historic championship victory at the final round at
Oran Park. But the title came via ever-dwindling points
returns, not the race wins Francevic was craving.
“I was saying we should be trying to win races,” says
Francevic. “But, of course, the team wasn’t doing it.
I got to the track for the final meeting and Sheppard
says, ‘You can’t practice, we don’t want to run the car’.
‘What are talking about?’ I said.
“When I finally got in the car it was so docile. I had
to finish sixth to win the championship and I finished
sixth; I worked my butt off... I’ve always said you’ve got
to be in the fastest car and take it easy. Instead I am
having to battle up to sixth to win. I still say it was not
the correct philosophy.”
At the Sandown 500 the whole sorry scenario came
abovE: while volvo
Australia jumped on
board for the second
half of the 1986 season,
leading to a change to
the team sensationally
headed to bathurst without
Born 18 September 1941
in Auckland, New Zealand
Wellington 500 winner
with Michele Delcourt
Australian Touring Car
New Zealand Touring Car
Championship winner in
1989 and 1990
Oldest ATCC/V8SC winner
– 44 years, 8 months,
V8X84 p56-60 Volvo.indd 58
14/11/14 4:24:26 PM
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