Jim Beam Racing’s Steve Johnson has finished the Phillip Island 300 with a similar result in today’s 200km race than he achieved in Saturday’s shorter first race. Qualifying delivered a slightly better result with a P14 starting position and Steve reported that the car was handling better on the fast Phillip Island layout.
At the Green Light, Johnson was away well, but by Turn 4 he was battling with Greg Murphy in almost a straight repeat of Saturday’s incident with the Kiwi driver. Murphy got into Steve and sent the #17 DJR Falcon off the track seeing Johnson tumble 10 spots on the first lap. An early Safety Car added to Johnson’s woes as he had to measure his speed into the pits as the bulk of the field headed to the lane. With some teams backing up Johnson wanted to avoid the additional time in the pits.
The pit lane was frenzied with Coulthard hitting Reindler and cars trying to feed back and not lose position. Johnson rejoined in 25th and set about trying to regain some positions. But the race became a series of short sprints in between Safety Car periods for crashes and debris on the track. At each restart, Johnson was pushing hard but the earlier knock from Murphy had again done some front end damage to the Jim Beam ‘Honey’ Falcon.
“The car was better today but after the 1st lap hit with Murphy the steering wheel was at about 11.00 o’clock and once again we had sustained front end damage. Fair dinkum, I thought it was Ground Hog Day – same comer, same driver hitting me and same result!” a frustrated Johnson said. “It was very hard to pass anyone after that although we did end up moving up the order a bit. I am hoping we can get some luck on our side in Darwin” Johnson added.
Steve finally crossed the line in 17th place in today’s 200km final leg of the Phillip Island 300.