We begin the odyssey of individual Group C seasons, and races, with the opening round of the second year of the championship, in 1983, the Monza 1,000 Kilometers at Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, in Monza, Italy.
Rothman’s Porsche and their Porsche 956 are the top contenders. Jacky Ickx, was the 1982 World Endurance Championship driver’s champion. He begins 1983, sharing the #1 Rothman’s Porsche with Germany’s Jochen Mass. In the sister car for Rothman’s Porsche, we have Great Britain’s Derek Bell, and through the season, he will be partnered by German, Stefan Bellof. But, here at Monza, his co-driver is Al Holbert from the United States. We will see Holbert later in the season as well. Lancia has a couple of cars, debuting their new Lancia LC2 powered by the twin turbocharged Ferrari Abarth 268C 2.6 liter V8. The main car for Lancia is their #5 entry, in the hands of Italian’s Piercarlo Ghinzani, and Teo Fabi. The driver lineups are expected to rotate from time to time, and the sister Lancia, #4, here at their home race at Monza, will be piloted by two more Italian racer’s, Riccardo Patrese and Michele Alboreto.
The cars are on Pirelli tires. There are a number of privately entered Porsche’s running in 1983, and the first of these contenders is run by German team manager and former driver, Reinhold Joest. Joest has a couple Porsche 956’s entered, and the first of these is car #11 for Bob Wollek of France, and Thierry Boutsen of Belgium. Wollek and Boutsen were second quickest in practice, and bested the times set by the Rothman’s factory cars. Also, be on the lookout for the #16 all British John Fitzpatrick Racing pairing of team owner/driver John Fitzpatrick, and his co-driver, David Hobbs, both from England.
Fitzpatrick and Hobbs have been racing for many, many years. There is another Joest Porsche 956 in the field for today’s race at Monza. A trio of German drivers share it. Rolf Stommelen, Hans Heyer, and Clemens Schicekntanz are those drivers. Sadly, this would be Rolf Stommelen’s final race in Europe before his tragic death a month later at Riverside Raceway in California, during an IMSA sports car race, in which Stommelen would suffer a fatal accident.
The #12 car is sponsored by New Man jeans. Another competitive privateer Porsche comes in the form of the Canon sponsored 956 for Richard Lloyd’s team. Englishman Lloyd sharing with Dutchman Jan Lammers and fellow Englishman, Tiff Needell. Over the course of the rest of the season, this team will see Britain’s Jonathan Palmer at the wheel of their car. Another contending 956 model Porsche, is the Obermaier Racing entry with Boss sponsorship. Three more German’s will be on the driver’s strength for this car, including Axel Plankenhorn, Jurgen Barth, and Jurgen Lassig.
We move, to Sunday’s race. Here are the top qualifying positions.
- #5 Ghinzani/Fabi Lancia LC2
- #11 Wollek/Boutsen Porsche 956
- #4 Patrese/Alboreto Lancia LC2
- #16 Fitzpatrick/Hobbs Porsche 956
- #12 Stommelen/Heyer/Schickentanz Porsche 956
- #14 Lloyd/Lammers/Needell Porsche 956
- #18 Plankenhorn/Barth/Lassig Porsche 956
- #19 Dron/Smith-Haas/Cleare Kremer Porsche CK5
These are your top eight qualifiers, and it’s a full field of Group C, and Group B cars. The Group B entrants are more production based cars, but still with a lot of power, and they might be highlighted throughout the course of these races in 1983. The Rothman’s Porsche team is competing against each other as much as the rest of the grid, with their two cars. No team orders. But, now, it’s race time, at Monza. Green flag, and it is go!
Piercarlo Ghinzani takes the lead in the Lancia from the start, with Bob Wollek in close pursuit in car #8. Derek Bell is not going to hang about, and he dives past Wollek for the second spot almost immediately. Wollek also has his hands full with the sister Rothman’s Porsche, car #1, of Jacky Ickx, who will hand over to Jochen Mass later in this race, a very experienced German driver is Mass. Through the Lesmos for the first time, and onto the Variante Ascari. Bell wants to stick his nose inside Piercarlo Ghinzani. The Italian Lancia driver is getting after it early in this race of 1,000 kilometers, 625 miles, or 173 laps. Rolf Stommelen has gone to fourth, passing Bob Wollek who rounds out the top five.
Next, in sixth and seventh are Riccardo Patrese in the sister Lancia, and also Tiff Needell in the Canon Porsche. This is the debut race for that Lancia and it is running really well, as Ghinzani continues to try and draw away from the Porsche’s. Jacky Ickx has made a move on Derek Bell for second spot. Derek Bell and Bob Wollek are in a scrap for third. But, we see problems for the Lancia! Piercarlo Ghinzani has blown a tire on that car! He is trailing smoke down the front straight. The left rear Pirelli tire has blown out, and Ghinzani must be very careful getting the car to pit lane so the crew can have a look, and change tires.
Ghinzani loses the carcass of the tire which sweeps across, and glances off Derek Bell’s Porsche! Whoa! Very nearly, there’s some argy bargy there. While Ghinzani forlornly enters the lane, we still see a race between the Porsche’s, because Wollek and Stommelen are closing on the leaders, and fast. There is bodywork damage to the Lancia on the rear corner, as the pit stop goes on. More on track action, and it’s the two Rothman’s cars ahead, with Ickx P1 and Bell P2. Bob Wollek decides to make a move into Parabolica and takes Bell for second, even with damage to the right front of his 956. The headlight cover is missing. Wollek is closing up on Jacky Ickx, going for the lead of this motor race.
Derek Bell gets back past Wollek for second. Nothing will stop Wollek. He gets back past Bell! Wow. This is no walkover for Rothman’s Porsche. They have their hands full with the Joest car which Wollek is expertly driving at the moment. Pit stop time for fuel, tires, and a driver change. Jacky Ickx will get out of the #1 Porsche 956 and Jochen Mass will take over for the next stint. We begin to notice that Wollek and Boutsen, these blokes are getting better fuel mileage as they stretch it one more lap before diving to pit lane. We see a moment for Richard Cleare as he spins the Kremer CK5 with Porsche power. More dramas and three wheels on my wagon, for car #22. This is the first of the two privateer Scuderia Sivama Lancia LC1’s in the field, running a different motor than the factory cars do. The LC1 is powered by a 1.4 liter four cylinder, with a single turbo.
But, that is not doing Italian driver’s Joe Castellano and Luigi Moreschi any good. Not sure if it’s Castellano or Moreschi at the wheel of it, well, what wheels are left, anyhow. Wollek and Boutsen are cruising thanks to their fuel consumption numbers. Ickx and Mass are second. You haven’t missed much since the three wheeled Lancia from earlier. Poor old Derek Bell and Al Holbert, though. The #2 Rothman’s Porsche 956 hasn’t been seen. They are struggling in seventh in the overall, after a seized wheel bearing cost them time in pit lane. The wheel bearing problem also overheated the driveshaft. Wollek and Boutsen conquer Monza! They win the 1,000 kilometers, in 1983.
Here are the results from Monza.
- #11 Wollek/Boutsen Porsche 956 Joest Racing
- #1 Ickx/Mass Porsche 956 Rothman’s Porsche
- #12 Stommelen/Heyer/Schickentanz Porsche 956 Joest Racing
- #18 Barth/Lassig/Plankenhorn Porsche 956 Obermaier Racing
- #16 Fitzpatrick/Hobbs Porsche 956 Fitzpatrick Racing
- #14 Lammers/Needell/Lloyd Porsche 956 Canon Racing
- #2 Bell/Holbert Porsche 956 Rothman’s Porsche
The next race is in England, at the Silverstone Circuit, in less than a month.