This is Dick Johnson Racing's moment of truth.
With Paul Radisich, a man regarded by some as one of the premier Touring Car pilots in the world, and Steven Johnson, a fitter, faster, more formidable V8 Supercar opponent than ever, the Shell Helix Falcons must step up and become genuine championship threats in 2002.
When they're hot, they're very hot. Leading a hungry pack, as they did on a number of occasions last year, Johnson's robust Falcons look menacing, almost invincible. When they're not on their game, they can be made to look less than average.
Consistency is the missing ingredient; the different between a championship win and another promising but ultimately unsatisfying season.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]Just when it seemed Steven Johnson would all but capitulate in the imposing shadows of his immortal father, Dick Johnson, he emerged last year as Ford's meaner, greatly leaner fighting machine, silencing a growing band of critics with an inspired driving renaissance.
It began in Adelaide, with a celebrated podium finish. With renewed confidence and much-needed self-belief, an emotional round win in Canberra would follow, before teaming with Radisich to win the Queensland 500.
He lost form over the final rounds, his title hopes slipping away when his engine expired atop Mount Panorama, but with the taste of success so fresh in his mouth, the rebirth is far from complete.
He knows how to win the big races, and can go the distance. The championship is in his sights.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]Paul Radisich has made an indelible mark on V8 Supercar racing since joining the series in 1999. The two-time World Touring Car Cup champion has now fully adapted to the Australian way of life and racing, after what seemed a long, arduous initiation.
Last year saw a more tenacious Radisich; one who did not shy away from any street fight. Reminiscent of his Castrol counterpart, Radisich did some enforcing of his own. It came with the realisation that if he wants this title - and he does, desperately - he has to do it the hard way, by biffing and barging his way to the front.
The laconic Kiwi produced blinding speed at some rounds - like his commanding Barbagallo performance - and somewhat erratic displays at others. Again, consistency is the key.
It seems almost inevitable, fitting even, that Radisich will one day win the Aussie crown. 2002 may well be the year of the Rat.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]And Greg Ritter, a most impressive enduro import for Dick Johnson Racing last season, has been invited back to the team for this year's campaign.
But rather than make a cameo appearance come the Queensland 500 and Bathurst V8 Supercar 1000, Johnson is making him earn his keep: testing for the team, working at DJR's Brisbane headquarters, and racing a third Shell Helix Falcon at selected rounds of the championship.
The 1999 Formula Ford champion was earmarked by Johnson as a rising star, and will feature prominently in those events he races in.
Dick Johnson Racing|
17. Steven Johnson
18. Paul Radisich
71. Greg Ritter (selected races)
Team Principal: Dick Johnson
Team Formed: 1977 but dates back to approx. 1965
1992-2002 V8 Supercar
1984-1992 Group A
1977-1984 Group C
Bathurst 1000km Wins
Other Race Wins
Symmons Plains, Oran Park, Surfers Paradise & Lakeside ATCC
Sandown, Calder Park & Adelaide International ATCC
Surfers Paradise ATCC
Adelaide International ATCC
Calder Park, Symmons Plains, Winton, Barbagallo, Adelaide International, Sandown, Amaroo Park & Oran Park ATCC
Amaroo Park, Symmons Plains, Lakeside, Barbagallo, Mallala & Sandown ATCC
Symmons Plains and Phillip Island ATCC
Sandown, Eastern Creek and Barbagallo ATCC
Amaroo Park ATCC
Symmons Plains, Mount Panorama, Winton & Oran Park ATCC, Sandown 500
Mount Panorama ATCC
Indy 300 Support Race
Sandown SCS & Indy 300 Support Race
Canberra, Barbagallo, Queensland 500 SCS & Albert Park Support Race
Dick Johnson, Vern Schuppan, John French, Warwick Brown, Gary Scott, Kevin Bartlett, Larry Perkins, Gregg Hansford, Charlie O'Brien, Neville Crichton, John Bowe, John Smith, Alfredo Costanzo, Robb Gravett, Jeff Allam, Tony Noske, Paul Radisich, Terry Shiel, Kayne Scott, Greg Taylor, Greg Crick, Cameron McConville, Steven Johnson, Allan Grice, Tommy Kendall, Craig Baird, Steven Ellery,
Cameron McLean, Jason Bright, Greg Ritter & Paul Stokell.