Steven Johnson has been forced to relinquish his race seat at his father’s Dick Johnson Racing team, despite the outfit securing much-needed sponsorship to see it through the 2013 V8 Supercars season.
‘Junior’ Johnson will instead take up a role as the team’s General Manager while the outfit seeks a well-funded driver to partner Tim Blanchard for the upcoming season, which kicks off next weekend.
The financially-embattled team was finally able to announce it had secured major sponsorship injections from security services company Wilson Security and card services solutions firm ADVAM that will guarantee it can field two Ford Falcons on the grid at next weekend’s season-opening Clipsal 500.
The #12 Ford Falcon entry will be the second car on the grid to feature major signage from Wilson Security, which already enjoys naming rights coverage of David Wall’s Holden Commodore fielded by Brad Jones Racing.
But the reshuffle effectively spells the end of the road for Steven, who has been a regular feature of the V8 Supercars landscape since making his full-time debut with his father’s team in 2000. He has claimed three career wins, and achieved a highest Drivers’ Championship finishing position of fifth in 2001.
“It was a really tough decision because I would love to be out there driving a V8,” he told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
“I wanted to be on the grid, but let’s face it, I’d much rather see the team succeed and have a future than me being in the car.
“[The new role] is a challenge I am looking forward to. We want to consolidate the business and be in a strong position in 12 months. There are positives in all of this because I think I can take some pressure off dad. He has been under immense strain and I can take on some of that now.”
The team will confirm the identity of Blanchard’s team-mate early next week.