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Australia officially became part of the global motorsport scene with the addition of the Australian Grand Prix into the Formula 1 world championship in 1985. And Australian touring cars also joined the international fraternity that year with the change from the home-grown Group C to international Group A regulations.
Group A put the emphasis on manufacturer involvement at a time when turbos ruled across different disciplines led by automotive brands investing heavily in the technology and motorsport.
Manufacturers had to produce certain amounts of cars in order to race that particular model, ending the days when privateers like Murray Carter and Dick Johnson could develop their own cars such as with the Ford Falcon XD in Group C.
The balance of power parity system attempted to level the playing field based on power to weight and tyre sizes. Group A cars may have been production based with limits on engine modifications (the more power, the more weight) but the lower ride height and suspension and brake packages were sn improvement on the Group C era.
Costs, therefore, increased with the look of the cars, running without the aerodynamic aids and guard flares of Group C, noticeably different. Entrants running European-spec cars would have the advantage while the locals played catch up.
Indeed, no Australian-made car would be on the grid for the season opener at Winton. Holden was still in the process of converting the VK Commodore into Group A-spec, Ford entrants such as Dick Johnson opted for the European-built Mustang GT, while Nissan was forced to sit out while it waited for the Skyline to be completed.
BMW was the favourite given its European Group A pedigree and having run in Australia in 1984. And it was Jim Richards in the JPS Team BMW who won the season opener with ease, setting the tone for the rest of the championship.
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