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GpA Racing in Australia by Anthony Hyde, August 1999. Updated Nov 2016

In 1985 the Mark Petch owned Group A Volvo 240T made headlines in Australia with driver Robbie Francevic.
The 4 cyl Volvo Turbo was the new car on the block, a real threat to V8 engine supremacy - How right they were !

VOLVO WINS 1985 European Touring Car Championship
VOLVO 4th 1985 Australian Touring Car Championship
VOLVO WINS 1986 Australian Touring Car Championship

VOLVO WINS 1987 Swedish Touring Car Championship

VOLVO WINS 1987 Finnish Touring Car Championship

In countries close to Australia
VOLVO WINS 1987 and 1988 Southeast Asian Touring Car Championship - Zepspeed Volvo team
VOLVO WINS 1987 and 1988 Thailand Touring Car Championship
VOLVO WINS 1987 and 1988 Malaysian Touring Car Championship, Penang

Robbie Francevic
Volvo wins 1986 ATCC
Adelaide (VMS Photo)

Year 1986 - Group A - Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) winner - researched by Anthony Hyde

Two 'Group A' Volvo 240 Turbo racecars competed in the 1986 championship. Driver's were Robbie Francevic (NZ) car 10 (LH drive), and starting at the Adelaide round John Bowe car 4 (RH drive).

Cars History - 'Car 10' was the ex Belgium (GTM Engineering) / ex Mark Petch Motorsport NZ / AVDT 240T . Details on this (LH drive) racecar are detailed in the next section that covers the previous year 1985.

'Car 4' Australian Volvo Dealer Team (AVDT) second car was an ex Thomas Lindstrom spare car from 1984 which was used as a test car by Eggenburger in 1985 before being handed onto the Belgium RAS Nordica Team who updated the car plus converted it to RH drive. Later, this second car was purchased by Petch and John Sheppard, on behalf of the AVDT for John Bowe. ThIs was fully rebuilty at the Volvo factory before shipment to OZ, and what a flyer it turned out to be.

The 1986 championship chase started with the Mark Petch Motorsport team running car 10 with just one driver Robbie Francevic (NZ) . The Petch team competed and won the first two rounds before agreeing to sell the car, spare chassis and all spares and equipment in April 1986 to the newly formed Australian Volvo Dealer Team (AVDT). The debut of the new dealer team was at R.3 Sandown Park in Melbourne with car 10. The team fielded two cars at R.4 Adelaide International Raceway in April 1986 where Robbie Francevic's 'car 10' came 3rd, and John Bowe in the new 'T' 'car 4' came 4th.

AVDT consortium : this consisted of Volvo Car Australia, Volvo Dealers from Australian & New Zealand, plus Valvoline Oil Australia and other team sponsors. Bob Atkin finalised the ADVT financial deal (former state sales manager, Volvo, Minto. SVM later). Volvo Dealers contributed 40% to the race budget - $100 for each new car sold. Technical support was both local and from Volvo Motorsport (VMS) in Sweden. John Sheppard was appointed Team Manager and the team was based at Calder, Melbourne.Shortly after Adelaide Petch and Sheppard fell out, with the Australian Dealer Council backing Sheppard against Petch.
Group A competition was against V8 GM Holden Commodores, V8 Mustangs, Nissan Skyline Turbos, BMW 635CSi & 325i, Rover etc.

In May 1986, Robbie Francevic took over the RH drive 'T' car and John Bowe campaigned the older LH drive car.

It was a good year, Volvo won the 1986 Australian Touring Car Championship.

An article below details the history of race car 10, the LH drive machine with driver Robbie Francevic.

March 1986 - Robbie Francevic in the Petch Racing 240T on its way to convincingly win Round 1 of the AMSCAR / ATCC at Amaroo Park, New South Wales. (Ray Berghouse Photo)
A video / DVD is available for this race, and its recommended to Volvo GpA fans.

January 1986 - Nissan 500 street race in Wellington (New Zealand) - The Mark Petch Motorsport Team of Francevic / Lindström 2nd on grid (Volvo was Car # 1 as they won the previous year) (Bill Forsyth Photo)
The car retired with a broken oil line.

1989 Symmons Plains win, Mark Petch & Robbie Francivec & wife Rose - 'winners are grinners'
(pic: Courtesy of Mark Petch)

James Hardie 1000, Bathurst 1985 Team - Mark Petch Motorsport with Drivers' R.Francevic & J.Bowe - (fell from the lead with a failed alternator diode)

The Impressive History of the left hand drive ex Belgium GpA 240T that brought to New Zealand & Australia by Mark Petch Motorsport
Homework & Compilation by Anthony Hyde. Fine detail contributed by Mark Petch

Late 1984 and into January 1985 - This LH drive full works 240T GpA was one of two cars prepared in Belgium by Guy Trigaux Motors (GTM Engineering) for the Belgium Volvo Dealer Team and competed in the 1984 European Touring Car Championship. The car (and spare parts) were purchased directly from Volvo Motorsport (Sweden) by Mark Petch a New Zealand engineer/businessman/race car driver. Petch had the car air freighted from Frankfurt to NZ after the 1984 European season ended, eventually arriving in New Zealand in January 1985 the day before the first ever Wellington street race. Owner, Mark Petch originally intended to drive the car himself, but due to the late arrival of the car on the Saturday afternoon of the race, Petch drafted his long time friend Robbie Francevic (NZ) to co-drive with GTM's #2 driver, big Michele Delcourt (Belgium). While Delcourt was very familiar with the car, Francevic proved equal to the task and after starting from the back of the grid the pair went onto win. Mark Petch Motorsport won the famous Nissan Sport 500 street race in Wellington. This first outing win was an amazing feat.

With the sucess of the car in Francevic's hands, Petch took the decision to ship the car to Australia being a late entry into the 1985 Australian Touring Car Championship under new GpA regulations. At the time they were the only privateers in the world running a GpA 240 without direct factory support.
The new Mark Petch Motorsport (MPM) team didn't yet have a comprehensive supply of parts to optimise the car setup for different tracks. At this stage Robbie Francevic was involved both as a driver & with the cars's race setup. Following a trip to Europe, Petch was able to form a technical alliance with the Eggenburger team which provided MPM with both mechanical and technical support and upgrades for the endurance races at Sandown and the Bathurst 'James Hardie 1000'. By mid season Wayne Eskersley, ex Allan Jones F1 Williams Team chief mechanic was employed as a Sydney based Crew Chief for the fledging team. Randell Edgell a noted NZ engine builder formed part of MPM from day one, and was responsible for tuning and rebuilding the teams engines and doubling up as a mechanic on race weekends. Apart from Ekersley and the truck driver, Petch, Francevic and Edgell all flew in from New Zealand a few days before each meeting to help with final preperations of the car. The team operated on a very small budget and suceeded in winning two of the ATCC rounds in 1985 and took out the under 3 litre category of the championship in their first year. At the end of Bathurst the car was shipped back to NZ and fitted with a new engine built by Edgell nick named 'Black Bar't putting out some 350 bhp.

1986 - In January 1986, Mark Petch Motorsport competed once again in the Nissan 500 street race in Wellington, New Zealand following the sensational win the year before. For the new season, newly homologation updates were fitted to the Volvo turbo in conjunction with visiting Swede,Thomas Lindström, the current ETC champion who Petch arranged to co-drive the event with Robbie F. They qualified 2nd on grid, result dnf. Back to Australia, the team won the first two rounds of the 1986 ATCC with Francevic before the Petch Team's car & equipment was sold to Volvo Australia. A new team was formed called the 'Australian Volvo Dealer Team'. Drivers were Robbie Francevic & John Bowe. From May 86, J.Bowe, the teams 2nd driver, drove this car for the rest of the 1986 ATC Championship, except enduance events where a new 240 RXT car was introduced.
It has to be said that without the two early wins in the 1986 ATCC when the LH drive car was still owned by Mark Petch Motorspot, it would have been for the AVDT to win, so the LH drive car had a pivotal role in
Volvo winning the '1986 Australian Touring Car Championship' (ATCC) the most popular category of Australian motorsport, a brilliant result against the factory backed V8 Fords, Nissan turbos & V8 Holdens.

Late 1986 - The Volvo factory pulls out of racing worldwide due in part to world GpA rule changes (eg turbo factor raised from 1.4 to 1.7) and disputes with the FIA. The 3 Australian cars (the LH plus 2 RH drives plus all carparts) were ordered back to Sweden by Volvo HQ, and arrived in Goteborg in mid March 1987 on the container ship mv ULSNIS. ...departed Australia in a giant Antonov Russian transport plane. No additional proof

1987 - Söderqvist Racing Services, (SRS) purchased all 3 cars shortly after they arrived in Sweden. The ex-Petch LH car was leased to 'Volvo Finland' where it won the 1987 Finnish Touring Car Championship in the hands of Leif Wiik. Later Anders Lindberg rebuilt the ex-Petch LH car and drove for Steffansson Automotive (SAM) in the Swedish championship in 1989 and won. SAM (Sweden) sold the car to an Austrian collector in 1992. In 2003 it was sold to Peter Kroeber from Germany who completely stripped the car to bare metal and fully rebuilt it. Peter sadly passed on, but the car is still owned by the Kroeber family being used occassionally in historic racing.

The following extra information on the teams 3rd car #44 is supplied by Mark Petch:

The AVDT R/H drive car, built in Australia by Jeff Grech and team, (with Grech to later become the Team Manager for HRT) used Petch’s spare 242GT body-shell [the  same 2 door body shell as used in the factory produced evolution 240T 2 door car’s] was fitted with parts supplied by VMS [Volvo Motor Sport]. It was only completed on the Friday of the Sandown 500. Both right hand drive cars arrived on Saturday afternoon at the circuit just after the finish of qualifying, and were denied entry to the top ten shoot out, however with the permission of the stewards of the meeting, they were given permission to start the race from the rear of the field.
Francevic was understandably upset to learn that he had been allocated the older heavier RH drive car with its 16” wheels and previous generation suspension etc., and vented his feeling in no uncertain manner to the frustrated Volvo Dealer’s gathered in the VIP Lounge, who promptly contacted John Sheppard voicing their concerns about the late arrival of the cars and how upset their star driver was with the decision to give John Bowe the new car. By the time Francevic made his way down to the pits to remonstrate with Sheppard, Sheppard had scratched the Francevic/ McRae entry and informed Francevic his services were no longer required. The Volvo Dealer Council had their back to the wall and had little option but to support Sheppard, although privately expressing the disappointment with what had happened to Francevic. It was little consolation to Francevic and he remains bitter about what happened to the AVDT under John Sheppard to this day.

Following the Sandown debacle worse was to befall the Sheppard led AVDT at Bathurst where both cars failed to finish, and the team was disbanded following Volvo Sweden’s decision not to run a factory supported GpA program. Despite the efforts of several prominent Australian Volvo dealers to carry on as a privateer team under new management, Volvo Australia withdrew its financial support and all 3 cars’ and spares were airfreighted back to Sweden.

In the hands of Peggen Andersson the fresh (Aussie built) R/H car, the so-called “Bowe” car, dominated the 1987 Swedish Championship and won the title with one race meeting to spare. The Bowe car went on to win many more races, in the hands of such Volvo luminaries as Ulf Grunberg etc. before eventually being purchased by an aspiring Danish Knud E Soerensen who raced the car with little success in Denmark against the Ford Cosworth Sierra’s Turbo cars with 4 valves per cylinder and better than 500 BHP. In 1994 The Bowe car was sold to another Danish citizen who was living in Spain and the car literally disappeared in Spain for 15 years without ever being raced again.
In 2009 the car was advertised for sale by a 2nd hand car dealer in Spain and was spotted by a Norwegian Volvo motorsport enthusiast, Thor Rustad, who had long been looking for a genuine Factory GpA Volvo 240T, and recognised the car as being the missing Bowe car, Rustad promptly bought the car sight unseen, and had the car trailered back to Norway.
After stripping the car back to a bare shell Rustad painstakingly rebuilt the car to a “period” perfect car reusing every thing that could be refurbished to as new condition, and replacing everything else with exact replica’s of the original parts such as the fuel cell and original refuelling system etc. The restoration of the car took nearly six years and in excess of 2,500 hours of time, not including the time taken by specialist’s such as the engine builder etc.
The completed Bowe car was shown to fellow Volvo enthusiasts at the annual Volvo Vroom show in Gothenburg in August of 2015 and to the public at the Oslo Motor show in October 2015. The car was seen in Sweden by Mark Petch and subsequently purchased Petch for his own private use in historic events and is schedule to appear first at the 2016 SCOPE Historic meeting at Christchurch’s Ruapuna racing circuit on the 5/6/7 of February 2016. Petch also plans to invite John Bowe to drive the car at the Muscle Car Masters annual Historic event in September, held at Sydney’s Eastern Creek Motorsport Park.


1986 - New paint scheme for Robbie Francevics' (LH drive) GpA 240T as a result of Volvo Dealer Team funding.
The new colours where the same as the European RAS Sport Volvo Works team. First shown at round 3, Sandown Park, Victoria 1986
- Francevic came in second behind the Nissan Skyline turbo. (VMS Photo)

(Rob Noble Photo)
May 1986 John Bowe in the Volvo Dealer Teams' 2nd GpA 240T racecar (RH drive, ex RAS) chasing Australian legend Peter Brock (red V8 HDT Holden Commodore), and George Fury (Nissan Skyline turbo) at Wanneroo, Western Australia. Later with Bowe leading the race a hose blew.
Luckily for Volvo, Robbie Francevic's 240T came in third.

(Chevron pic?)
1986 Round 4 ATCC - ' Adelaide International' won by Francevic

(L to R) Robbie Francevic, Stewart Houston, Stuart Stanombe, Wayne Eckersley, Geff Grech (HDT), John Sheppard (team manager)
on Truck is Graham 'Mort' Brown (Missing is 2nd driver John Bowe)
(VMS Photo, taken on a cold day at Calder Park, Melbourne, 1986).
After packing the transporter they headed off to Adelaide for R.4 of the Australian Touring Car Championship which they won!

(Later-on in 1986 team members were: Geoff Cherry, John Cherry, Craig Burgess)

View motorsport history of an Australian 'GROUP A' Volvo 360 GLT

LINK - V360 Racing Site is in the Netherlands (not in English)

Any information that you would like to share, please email Anthony thank you.