Dick Johnson to demo new Falcon at Bathurst

Wednesday 8th October, 2014 - 4:00am

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A production Ford Falcon FG X XR8 will make its first public appearance at Bathurst

A production Ford Falcon FG X XR8 will make its first public appearance at Bathurst

Dick Johnson and Mark Winterbottom will cut demonstration laps in Ford’s final Falcon road car, the FG X, at Mount Panorama this weekend.

The track time will mark the first public appearance for a production version of the FG X XR8 model, which is set to go on sale from December 1.

Johnson and Winterbottom will take competition winners on hot laps during 10 minute sessions on Friday afternoon (1255) and Saturday morning (0905).

The XR8, which returns to the Falcon line-up for the model’s final incarnation packing a 335kw version of the 5.0 litre Boss V8, will also be on display at the circuit throughout the weekend.

“This will be the first the public has seen of the production XR8 so it’s a great opportunity for the fans to see the car,” a Ford spokesman told Speedcafe.com.

“Given that Ford won last year, it’s a great opportunity to celebrate that win again but also provide the fans a glimpse of the first XR8 production car.”

Ford’s decision to utilise Bathurst in the pre-launch phase of the FG X’s promotion is a positive sign for V8 Supercars as the category waits for a commitment from the Blue Oval beyond this season.

Ford Performance Racing and the reborn DJR Team Penske will both race Falcons next season, but whether they homologate the FG X or stick with the FG will depend on funding from the manufacturer.

Ford has maintained throughout the year that it will not solidify its future position with the category until the end of the season.

While factory driver Winterbottom is a logical choice for the Bathurst outing, Johnson has largely been kept at arms’ length by the manufacturer in recent years.

Having run demonstrations in the BA V8 Supercar and BF road car at Bathurst to launch the models in 2002 and 2006 respectively, Johnson says he jumped at the chance to be involved with the FG X.

“I’ve always been a loyal person and I like the brand, I always have,” Johnson, whose team runs without direct financial input from the manufacturer, told Speedcafe.com.

“I’ve been involved with Fords since 1975, which is a fair old innings, and every championship and Bathurst I’ve won have been in Fords.

“Hopefully some of the people there are starting to realise (again) that there is a bit of value in some of the stuff I can do for them.”

This weekend will mark the last Bathurst for Johnson’s team in its current guise before morphing into DJR Team Penske next year.

While much of DJR’s legend has been created at Bathurst, the veteran brushed aside suggestions that this weekend is the end of an era.

“It’s not really on my mind at all to be honest,” he said of the last Bathurst under the DJR banner.

“It’s just an extension of us going to bigger and better things.

“That’s not just for me personally or even the team, that’s for all of V8 Supercars.

“I’ve always thought that V8 Supercars is the chicken and we’re the eggs and if you’ve got an ordinary chicken, the eggs are going to be pretty crap, aren’t they?”

Fifty-one percent of the DJR Team Penske entity will be owned by Team Penske, with DJR’s shareholders Johnson, Steve Brabeck and Ryan Story sharing the remainder.

Penske president Tim Cindric and incoming DJR Team Penske team manager Jeff Swartwout have both flown to Bathurst for this weekend’s race.