WANNEROO’S two-time V8 ute champion Grant Johnson has retired from this year’s series after selling his Holden VE and racing franchise to fellow West Aussie Todd Zani.
Johnson, who claimed the 2007 and 2010 titles, along with third in 2008, second in 2009 and fourth in 2011, will walk away with seven years of V8 ute racing memories.
“I’m a little bit sad. It’s an awesome series, the guys that drive in the series have really stepped up the last few years and there are a lot of quality drivers. I’ve got a lot of good memories, and some not so pleasant,” he said with a grin.
“I haven’t closed the door on the whole thing, it will be a shame to miss the 50 years of Bathurst, however it will be awesome to watch anyway.”
Although a bit sad, he finds the decision a bit of a reprieve.
“We’ve struggled with support over the last few years, so at least the pressure is off,” Johnson said.
“I’m going to focus on endurance races for the time being. I have a drive in Malaysia with Gavin Bullas in the 12-hour, but anything I can do driving wise is great, I’m not putting my eggs in one basket.
“It’s a shame to hang it all up but I have to be a realist. If things change in the future then at least I have the option to come back. I might put my hand up for the Auto One Wildcard drive and give them their first podium.”
Zani is a former Targa racer, claiming wins in Tasmania and New Zealand, and has already raced in two rounds in the ute series (Perth and Darwin,) debuting on his home track Barbagallo with Williams Race Tech.
“It will be a shame to see someone of Grant’s talent step out of the series, but I’m sure he’ll stay involved through all the West Aussie drivers,” Zani said.
“He’s already given me a few tips and I’m really looking forward to racing at Bathurst.”
Zani will hit the track for round 5 of the ute series at Mount Panorama October 4-7.