Steve Johnson will make his hosting debut on ONE HD motorsport’s program RPM, airing tonight.
The Jim Beam Racing driver is scholar of the sport, showing a lifelong interest in all facets of motor racing, both locally and internationally.
While regular co-host Craig Baird is away in Singapore, tonight (Wednesday, Sept 21, 10.30pm, ONE HD), Johnson will get to test his knowledge and opinions as he sits in the big chair alongside hosts Greg Rust and Daryl Beattie.
Before he went into the make-up room, Speedcafe.com’s Grant Rowley caught up with Johnson to speak about appearing on RPM, plus the aftermath of his team’s shocker at Phillip Island.
SPEEDCAFE: So how did your spot on RPM tonight come about?
STEVE JOHNSON: Craig Baird is off to Singapore to race in a Porsche, so it’s a good chance for me to get in alongside the boys – Rusty and Daz.
We’re going to touch on Phillip Island and V8 Supercars, but we’ll also be talking about MotoGP, Formula One, NASCAR and other classes. I’m interested in other forms of motorsport, so this gives me a chance to talk a bit about it. It’s pretty exciting.
SPEEDCAFE: When you found out you were going be a host on RPM, what sort of research did you start to do?
JOHNSON: I’ve just been studying the races over the past weeks and look at how they unfolded.
Obviously, we’ll be looking back at what happened, plus looking forward to this weekend, including the Singapore Grand Prix.
It will be a different mindset – you’ve got to dig a little bit, find out what’s going on. Daryl and Greg will be all over that, but I’ve made a few notes of bits that I’ve seen – whether that’s MotoGP or F1. We’ll see how I go.
(DJR team manager) Malcolm Swetnam has given me a contact that I’ve chatted to from Mercedes GP to give me an insight. He has given me some info that I’ll be able to slide onto the telly, which is stuff that people don’t really know about.
I’ve got little bits like that to try and make the show more interesting, rather than just turn up and talk about what you know. I’m excited about doing it and I want to make it a regular thing.
SPEEDCAFE: Is doing more media work something you’d like to do more in the future?
JOHNSON: Absolutely. Tonight’s show will be a good thing for my profile, my team and I can bring in a new angle and a new view.
I’d like to get more media gigs, especially about things I know about and things I’m interested in.
Even though this isn’t the same network that is broadcasting V8 Supercars, it is very good to expand that, and for people to be able to hear, see and be in touch with what we do.
SPEEDCAFE: One subject that you might not be thrilled about broaching on tonight’s RPM program is the form of Dick Johnson Racing at Phillip Island … (ED: the two DJR cars finished 25th and 26th).
JOHNSON: Yeah, it was pretty disappointing, to say the least.
We’ve had a really productive debrief. My engineer hasn’t been able to sleep over the past few days. We’ve got a very good program leading into Bathurst and we’ve pin-pointed the exact problems we had down there and we’re going to make sure that we never have those problems again.
We need to be able to work about problems to make sure they’re fast for Bathurst.
There were certain aspects of Phillip Island that we weren’t able to change at Phillip Island that we’d changed before we went down there, which was part of our problem.
The good thin is that we haven’t just sat back and thought “lets just worry about the next one.” Productively, certainly within the team, we’ve sat down and gone through every aspect to work out what the problems are.
Bathurst is very similar to Phillip Island in the speed of the corners – obviously more undulating and more bumpy – but they are a similar style.
I don’t think we’ve been as strong at Bathurst since 2007, and we have a fair idea of why that is. We just need to put in place what we need to make the cars fast.
The good thing is that the team is actually positive about the weekend just gone and the problems we’ve found. I don’t want to go into the specifics, but we’re quite excited. Even though it was a hard weekend, we’ve highlighted some major problems that we didn’t expect. We’ll be stronger for it.
SPEEDCAFE: I guess you’d sacrifice a painful Phillip Island weekend for a Bathurst win or podium …
JOHNSON: Oh, 100 percent.
Like I said to some people before Phillip Island, I’d sacrifice any race to win at Bathurst. Now, we’ve had a bad one at Phillip Island, so we want to make amends at Bathurst.
There is certainly no confidence lost from myself or the guys. If anything, it has made us more positive.