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This car is older than I am! Though Iíve been racing for quite a few years through different state and national categories. After I was getting some good results, Carey McMahon (who also races a De Tomaso) decided to throw me the keys to the Sierra.
Iíve just set a 1:39.3 lap time, which I believe is a new record for the class. (This is for Group A Touring. Mark Skaife previously set it at 1.40.2, in a Skyline back in 2013 Ė Ed.)
The Sierra is really nice to drive and really opened my eyes to the technology they had back in the 1990s. Iíve driven a quite a few late-model cars in recent times, but jumping into a real raw race car that some of the legends of our sport were racing is just awesome.
I noticed some little things, like the car doesnít produce much downforce. At a track like this, where the speeds are quite high through the corners, you do notice a little bit of instability. But the car still does everything you ask it to.
The power down is aggressive but nice and the car rotates well Ė itís just a really good package. It is aggressive and feels like itís going to throw you out the back window when it gets going.
Edís note - The Sierras in original race form had a reputation for being challenging to drive. Our 2013 feature with the legendary team owner and driver Dick Johnson had this to say about the 1993cc DOHC 16-valve Cosworth engine: ďWe used to run them in on the dyno without the turbo hooked up and flat out they made 90 horsepower. I kid you not. Put a turbo on it with 2.4bar of boost and it made 680 horsepower. And it used to come on like a light switch.Ē
Jimmy is now moving on to the recently-announced TCR Australia series as part of the Gary Rogers Motorsport crew and is looking for additional sponsorship. You can see his website at jimmyvernonracing.com.
(We caught up with Jimmy at the recent Phillip Island Classic Festival of Motorsport. See our galleries at tradeuniquecars.com.au)