Asher JohnstonMotorsport has a habit of producing extreme highs and the lowest of lows – and last weekend’s Clipsal 500 Adelaide was no exception for Glenelg’s Asher Johnston.

20-year-old Johnston experienced the whole gamut of emotions throughout the opening round of the 2007 Australian Formula Ford Championship but leaves the event confident in the knowledge that he has what it takes to race at the very front of the series.

The Clipsal 500 was Johnston’s second start in a National Championship Formula Ford event but his first since finishing third in last years Victorian Formula Ford title.

Driving his AJR / G-Force Mygale SJ07 #18 entry, Johnston will tackle a selected campaign on this year’s championship to gain experience and race miles before aiming to win it in 2008.

Johnston’s Clipsal 500 weekend started slowly, Asher the recipient of contact from another driver on just his second lap of the first practice session Thursday morning. The impact broke the rear suspension of his Mygale chassis and left the team without any data or information from the session.

Now a session behind the eight ball, Johnston was 17th fastest in the second practice session as the team battled to set the car up to suit the bumpy street circuit.

Qualifying was equally difficult, 20th place the best the team and driver could muster after three red-flags ensured that it was extremely difficult to get a clear lap around the 3.2km track.

Two races were held Saturday, Asher working from the 10th row of the grid to finish a safety-car interrupted affair in 14th position – a pleasing gain and proof that things were slowly beginning to turn around.

Unfortunately that didn’t last through the second race, when Asher was caught up in a mid-pack coming together and ousted from the 8-lap affair on lap four.

With the damage repaired, Asher was a man on a mission in Sunday’s finale and set about working through the field as quickly and cleanly as possible.

Johnston passed a number of cars and escaped the carnage – 15 of 25 starters finished the race – to finish an excellent 11th.

What was even more pleasing was that the team resolved their setup difficulties and found significant amounts of pace out of the brand new Mygale chassis.

“The car was a jet in that final race,” Johnston said.

”We know what it likes now. It’s been a very tough and hard weekend but to be able to come through the field and finish 11th after starting dead last was fantastic.

“It was a shame to loose the practice session on Thursday when we were hit off. It really put us behind the eight ball and meant that we were a session behind where we needed to be in comparison to everyone else.

“I didn’t get the results that I hoped for but we can be very positive about the weekend as a whole.” He said.

After battling to adjust the car to his liking after only one test day prior to the event, Johnston said that significant progress was made.

”By the end of the weekend it felt really good,” he said.

”What we have learnt this weekend will allow us to go to the next meeting and hopefully be on the pace from the very first session.

“I have to thank all of my sponsors and supporters for getting me here. It’s been a challenging weekend but I think we are now really prepared for the future.”

Photo by Richard Craill