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Bowe: Bathurst 12 Hour drive with Johnson ‘might happen’

Daniel Herrero

Tuesday 16th April, 2019 - 11:26am

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Steven Johnson and John Bowe with the former’s son, Jet pic: John Bowe Facebook

John Bowe has revealed that plans are in their embryonic stages for him to share a car with Steven Johnson and Tony D’Alberto in next year’s Bathurst 12 Hour.

Bowe had been a semi-regular in Australian GT racing until recently and continues to compete in Paynter Dixon Touring Car Masters, which sees him race in the same field as Johnson.

A Bathurst 12 Hour winner across the production car and GT3 era, Bowe did not take part in this year’s event due to work on his TCM program, which was threatened by the loss of a major sponsor.

Speaking on the latest episode of the Rusty’s Garage podcast on PodcastOne Australia, the Tasmanian native explained how a plan is being hatched with a sponsor common to Johnson and DJR Team Penske Pirtek Enduro Cup co-driver Tony D’Alberto to put all three in the same car for the 2020 Mount Panorama sportscar enduro.

“This year, I decided that I wouldn’t do the 12 Hour, first of all because I had quite a lot of stuff to put together for my Touring Car Masters, so I didn’t have time to train much,” he told Greg Rust.

“Then I drove up there to be there, as an ambassador for (naming rights sponsor) Liqui-Moly, and I go, ‘Gee, wish I was driving,’ and then halfway through the race when I saw all those young, fit athletes collapsing in the pit lane, I thought, ‘Geez, I’m glad I’m not doing it.’

“But I did speak to one of Stevie J’s supporters about it, and this guy supports Tony D’Alberto as well, and he’s a good bloke, I know him quite well, so it may well happen.

“I said I’d like someone like Steve in it, who’s got a lot of ability, and Tony D, who’s a very good little driver, so I can just do the easy stuff in the middle of the day when no one looks too much, and they can do the hard work, but it might happen.

“If it’s going to happen, it needs to happen by November so I can make myself ready for it and we can do some mileage. Because those cars have got such a high level of grip, they’re quite taxing, so you need to be ready for it.”

Bowe has a longstanding friendship with Steven Johnson having driven with and for his father during the 1980s and 1990s, although idea was his and D’Alberto’s rather than that of ‘Junior Johnson’.

Now well into his sixties, Bowe suggested the start would be his last in the Bathurst 12 Hour, which has become an increasingly important race on the global sportscar calendar and now forms a round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge.

“(Johnson) didn’t even know much about it I don’t think; it was more Tony D’Alberto and I because Stevie wasn’t there.

“But I’d like to do it as a swansong, being a fun event. Since it became a Pro-Pro event, it’s changed to a very cut-throat sort of thing so I’d like to do it with those guys just for fun.”

Despite the use of the word ‘swansong’, Bowe maintains that he will continue to race in TCM, in which he has competed since 2008, for some time to come.

“I’m not over it (driving) yet,” he declared.

“TCM is not stupidly expensive either but it’s not cheap, I certainly couldn’t fund it on my own, so as long as I can have people partner with me – I’ve got Brian Boyd from Payce and Paynter Dixon, he’s helped me out this year – I’ll do it for a few more years yet.

“Then I’ll still do it, so I’ll get an old race car of some sort, something that’s not too blindingly fast, and I’ll be down there with the sandwiches and the thermos, Phillip Island Classic, and I’ll be remembering how fast I was.”

Bowe will be in action at Mount Panorama again this weekend when he shares a VF HSV GTS with New South Wales production car racers Tony Virag and Joe Krinelos in the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour.

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