This is the second season, of the seven season retrospective series on the Group C championship. We begin the 1984 season, in Italy, at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.
The 1984 World Endurance Championship, was to be the best series yet. Rothmans Porsche renews their battle with the privateer Porsche 956s, and with Lancia Martini Racing. Later in the season, we will see Jaguar, making their return to top flight international sports car racing, for the first time, since the late 1950s/early 1960s. There were eleven events, and we will highlight ten of them, as the race at Kyalami in South Africa, unlike last year in 1983, had a very poorly subscribed entry. It will be briefly mentioned, but look for ten races, to be highlighted this year.
Bob Wollek is now the new top driver for Lancia Martini Racing, and having competed for Porsche, well, now the Frenchman from Strasbourg, is out to beat them. Many privately entered Porsche’s are in the series this year and will surely be competitive against the Rothmans cars. One of their top rivals is the #14 car, the Canon liveried Porsche 956 of Jan Lammers, the Dutchman, and once again, Johnny Palmer is his co-driver. The Brit is ready for another year of Group C competition. Keith Green is the Canon Porsche team manager. Lancia is already showing they can compete with the Porsche’s in a straight fight, despite the fact that in practice, Riccardo Patrese binned it, and the mechanics had to set about repairing the LC2 racer.
They were up to the challenge of fixing the LC2-84 and it would take part in the race. Earning pole, was Stefan Bellof in the #2 Rothmans Porsche. So, things were starting out quite in the way they had finished in ’83, with the Rothmans cars at the sharp end of the grid. Not only are the big cars of Group C1 looking healthy, but so are the smaller displacement Group C2 cars. In the C2 division, there would be a battle royal between the Lola Mazda’s, the Ecurie Ecosse team, and later on in the year, Gordon Spice with his Spice chassis, campaigned by a number of teams, and the Italian built Alba cars. We have a full grid of 32 cars, and are ready for a start!
Lights out! Away we go! Group C 1984 is underway! Stefan Bellof immediately takes the lead in the Monza 1,000 Kilometers. Two new Italian recruits for Lancia are in hot pursuit of the defending champion, Stefan Bellof. Paolo Barilla and Mauro Baldi are the lead Lancia drivers in 1984. The cars serpentine their way through the first of the Lesmo chicanes. One big change for ’84 is that we have a lot of privateer Porsche 956’s coming into the fold to give the Rothmans boys a tough run for their money. Stefan Bellof leads the way from Lancia, Canon Porsche, and new teams from Skoal Bandit Porsche and New Man Porsche/Joest Racing.
There are two Skoal Bandit liveried Porsche’s in the championship. #33 is shared by David Hobbs and Thierry Boutsen, while #55 has two young British racers, Rupert Keegan and Guy Edwards, at the wheel of it. Bellof leads, as there is an eight car battle for second, led by the #14 Canon Porsche of Lammers and Palmer. The Skoal Bandit cars are the new cars and new livery for John Fitzpatrick Racing. Stefan Bellof and Derek Bell are consolidating their lead in this motor race, so far. Jacky Ickx in the #1 Rothmans Porsche he shares as usual with Jochen Mass, begins climbing his way through the field. There’s a massive battle for the next ten spots, and the racing is getting really tasty here at Monza, in the early going. Lammers and Palmer inherited second place, after passing the #5 Baldi/Barilla driven Lancia.
The sister #4 Lancia of Bob Wollek and Riccardo Patrese is seventh in the overall, ahead of Jacky Ickx in Porsche #1. Ickx finally gets past Riccardo Patrese in the #4 machine. Group C2 is being led by the Alba cars with their Gianinni built Carma 1.9 liter 4 cylinder engines. Most of these cars have Italian driver lineups, and so it is that the #80 Jolly Club Alba of Carlo Facetti and Martino Finotto leads #81, the sister car, for Almo Coppelli and Davide Pavia. In hot pursuit of the Alba’s are the #77 Ecosse C284 with the Swindon built 3.0 liter Ford Cosworth DFV V8 engine (a classic in auto racing), piloted by the British trio of Ray Mallock, Mike Wilds, and David Duffield. Behind them, it’s the #67 BF Goodrich Lola Mazda Rotary of Americans Jim Busby and Rick Knoop.
Jacky Ickx is up to third and Thierry Boutsen is harrying the Lancia for fourth. Now, we have our first incident of this race. Oscar Larrauri takes the #9 Brun Motorsports Gaggia sponsored Porsche 956, and flips it! Team mate, from Italy, Massimo Sigala won’t be happy about that, as the Argentine driver, is on his head. Larrauri is buried in the sand, and should have brought a bucket and spade to dig his way out of a whole mess of trouble. Meanwhile, pit stop time for Rothmans Porsche. Car #2 is in the lane for service. Derek Bell takes over the controls from Stefan Bellof.
Jan Lammers and Johnny Palmer take the overall lead in the #14 Canon Porsche, while the first of the factory cars, is second. That’s the #1 Ickx/Mass entry. At the end of the pit cycle, Derek Bell is back in the lead as Jacky Ickx hands the #1 car to Jochen Mass for the next stint. New rules for 1984, stipulate that in the 1,000 kilometer events, no more than 600 liters of fuel can be used by each car. Now, the plot thickens again. All three privately entered Porsche teams, Joest, Skoal Bandit, and Canon, each one had major engine failures, and the mystery remains. Why did the turbocharged Porsche engines in the back of the privately entered 956s go ka-blammo?
Lancia has both of their LC2-84s in the top six at the moment, here in their home race at Monza. Bellof and Bell lead, and Ickx and Mass have clawed their way back to second. Bob Wollek in the Lancia is pushing a little too hard, and is off the road, trying to make up time on the leaders. In Group C2, right now, the Mazda’s have it all their own way, as both of the Alba Giannini cars, retired from the race. Game over, for Alba. Derek Bell brings Porsche #2 into the lane, to hand over to Stefan Bellof. Each stop is roughly 90 seconds to two minutes in duration. The #14 Canon Porsche we saw running so well earlier, has suspension damage that is being fixed. Jan Lammers and Jonathan Palmer, will recover to finish fifth overall.
Bellof is still leading the motor race, and it seems that a Rothmans Porsche 1-2 at Monza, is inevitable. It’s a bad day for Skoal Bandit Porsche. David Hobbs and Thierry Boutsen retired with a blown motor, and now, #55 of Rupert Keegan and Guy Edwards has lost a wheel and damaged the suspension beyond repair. Riccardo Patrese has big damage to the Lancia. It’s a pear shaped afternoon for Lancia, too. They had crash damage, electrical problems, and most dramatically, a fire in the pit lane. Riccardo Patrese flames his way into the lane, likely with the oil cooler or something knocked off the car, and the mechanics put out the fire, but the car, is done for the day. It’s another episode of game over, play again next time.
Stefan Bellof cruises to victory. But, it’s short lived. The #2 Rothmans Porsche and the third place #5 Lancia of Paolo Barilla and Mauro Baldi, were both disqualified by the stewards, This disqualification was appealed, and the FISA governing body, reinstated their positions in the race. Let’s look at the race results.
- #2 Bellof/Bell Porsche 956 Rothmans Porsche
- #1 Ickx/Mass Porsche 956 Rothmans Porsche
- #5 Baldi/Barilla Lancia LC2/84 Martini Racing
- #19 Stuck/Grohs/Brun Porsche 956 Brun Motorsport/Kremer
- #14 Palmer/Lammers Porsche 956 GTi Engineering
- #12 Merl/Schornstein Porsche 956 New Man/Schornstein Racing Team
Winners in C2 once again:
#67 Busby/Knoop Lola T616 Mazda BFGoodrich
Next up, in three weeks, it is the Silverstone 1,000 Kilometers at Silverstone in England.