Steven Johnson is set to start the 2018 Touring Car Masters series in the faithful ‘Mustang Sally’ despite the impending approval of the XD Falcon’s eligibility.
While that application is expected to be approved, Johnson’s title defence will begin in the 1969 Ford Mustang Fastback which he took to a maiden national series win this year.
Team Johnson, headed up by three-time Bathurst 1000 winner Dick Johnson and son Steven, had been behind the push to get the XD into TCM.
However, it is unlikely to be the first to race it in the popular series owing to a delay in finding a suitable donor chassis.
Johnson instead anticipates a mid-season introduction, with work on the car yet to begin.
“I’d say at this stage that’s probably the plan,” he told Speedcafe.com regarding starting 2018 in the Mustang.
“We’ve had discussions with (car owner) Tony Warner about that and he’s all for it so that’s looking like what’s going to happen at this stage.
“We’ll working towards when we can debut the XD, which at best would be mid-year, probably later in the year.
“It might even be the last round, I’m not sure, so it’s just depending on how long it takes to build.
“I don’t want to rush it. It’s going to be a nice car, we want to build it properly, and make sure it’s designed properly so the thing can race for the next 10 or 15 years like the Mustang has, no problem.”
The XD has not officially got the nod to join TCM’s eligible vehicle list, but Category Administrator Rowan Harman is confident that the decision, which sits with CAMS, is now a formality.
“They haven’t come straight up and said ‘no’ so we’re just waiting for the signed copy, so it’s there, it’s done,” Harman told Speedcafe.com.
“They’ve got our Sporting and Tech Regs, we haven’t got a phone call back saying, ‘Hey, what are you doing here?’, and it had been discussed prior.
“It’s 99 percent there.”
Marcus Zukanovic is understood to be in the process of building up an XD to race in the series next year but could not be reached for comment.
Despite the eligibility stretching to 1980, Harman reiterated that the VB Commodore will still not be allowed in the medium term.
“It will be three to five years minimum before anything like that would be contemplated,” he added.
“There’s been plenty of people and chat talking about the Commodore but if that was to happen we’d want to give two to three years’ warning at least so people could review which way they were going to go.
“It’s such a dynamically different motor car to everything else, that’s the reason why (it will not be made eligible).”
The 2018 Touring Car Masters Series begins at the Adelaide 500 on March 1-4.