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GpA Racing in Australia by Anthony Hyde, August 1999. Updated 1/2014

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
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 a few rounds later John Bowe (Australia) in car 4 (RH drive).
Cars History - 'Car 10' ex Belgium (GTM Engineering) / ex Petch NZ /
AVDT 240T. - 'Car 4' Australian Volvo Dealer Team (AVDT) 2nd car was ex Belgium 1986 RAS Nordica built Test 'T' car. (Note: RH drive rather than the usual euro LH drive), being fully rebuilt by the Volvo Factory before shipment to Oz.

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 in two rounds before selling the car and all equipment in March 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.
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 car 10, Robbie Francevic's mount.

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 great race, and its recommended to Volvo GpA fans.

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

1985 Mark Petch & Robbie F.
(pic: AutoAction)

James Hardie 1000, Bathurst 1985 Team - Mark Petch Motorsport with Drivers' R.Francevic & J.Bowe - (retired with broken alternator diode)

The Impressive History of an ex Belgium GpA 240T that brought to New Zealand & Australia
Homework & Compilation by Anthony Hyde

1984 - This LH drive semi-works built 240T GpA was 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 from Volvo Motorsport (Sweden) by Mark Petch a New Zealand engineer/businessman/race car driver. The car was air freighted from Brussels to NZ after the 1984 European season ended, arriving in New Zealand January 1985. Petch formed a race team partnership with driver Robbie Francevic, and at the time were the only privateers in the world running a GpA 240 without direct factory support.
1985 - In January, Mark Petch Racing won the famous Nissan Sport 500 street race in Wellington, New Zealand with drivers Robbie Francevic (NZ), and Michele Delcourt (Belgium). Michele was familiar with the car as he raced it for GTM Engineering in the 1984 ETC. This first outing win was an amazing feat as the car arrived very late at the circuit just in time for final practice and started the race from rear of grid. Soon after in 1985 the car was shipped to Australia, being a late entry into the 1985 Australian Touring Car Championship where new GpA regulations were introduced. Having owned the car for a short time the new team didn't yet have a supply of parts to change car setup for different tracks. At this stage Robbie Francevic was involved both as a driver & with the cars's race setup. Later in the year the car received updates for endurance races at Sandown and the Bathurst 'James Hardie 1000'. Wayne Eskersley was head engine builder.
1986 - Early in 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, major homologation updates were fitted to the Volvo turbo by visiting Swede,Thomas Lindström, also being co-driver for 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.
This LH drive car contributed to
Volvo winning the '1986 Australian Touring Car Championship' (ATCC) the most popular category of Australian motorsport, a brilliant result against the V8 Fords & Holdens.
Late 1986 - Volvo 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) were ordered back to Sweden by Volvo HQ, departing in a giant Antonov Russian transport plane.
1987 - Söderqvist Racing Services, (SRS) purchased the ex-Petch LH car and the AVDT built RH drive car. Apparently one of the cars was for 'Volvo Finland', where later Leif Wiik won the 1987 Finnish Touring Car Championship. Anders Lindberg rebuilt the ex-Petch LH car and drove for Steffansson Automotive (SAM) in the Swedish championship in 1989. SAM (Sweden) sold car to a collector in Austria 1992. Sold again to PK in Germany, 2003. The car is in top good condition and lives on, being used in historic racing in Germany.


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 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 team members: Geoff Cherry, John Cherry,Craig Burgess)

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