The 2.9 mile layout of the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in Northamptonshire, England is the venue of round two of the World Endurance Championship, and the entire length of the Grand Prix track will be used for this race. 20,000 people will see one of the biggest entries of the year, besides the 24 Hours of Le Mans, contest the Silverstone 1,000 Kilometers. 53 cars entered, and ultimately, 44 of them will start the race.
Three Rothmans Porsche’s are entered for this race, and by the same token, Lancia has also come loaded for bear. They have more power from their 2.6 liter Ferrari Abarth V8’s, and have a third car, which is the privately entered Jolly Club car for Italian’s Beppe Gabbiani and Pierluigi Martini. The Skoal Bandit Porsche team led by John Fitzpatrick is close to and hoping for their first win. We have other notable cars here at Silverstone, among them, the Lola, the Cougar, private Porsche’s, and the Sehcar from Switzerland. We have the Canon Porsche and also the Joest New Man Porsche, #7 to be driven by German Klaus Ludwig, and Frenchman Henri Pescarolo.
Also, there is the newly turbocharged monster, the Aston Martin Nimrod, which is the most powerful racer on the Group C grid for this event. There are two of them. The #31 for the British trio of Richard Attwood, John Sheldon, and Mike Salmon, and the #32 for Ray Mallock and Drake Olson. There is another Rothmans liveried Porsche in the race, set to carry an onboard camera during the race, for the first time. This is car #16, with Rothmans livery, and this Porsche 956 will be shared by Richard Lloyd, and Nick Mason, yes… the drummer for Pink Floyd, is driving in this race. The installation and calibration of the onboard camera takes as much time to work out as the preparation on the car itself. Lloyd and Mason must both drive a few laps in qualifying in order to actually qualify and be a part of this motor race. Lloyd is on a timed qualifying lap. So, we will take a guided tour of the Silverstone circuit. Down the front straight, under the Shell bridge, and through Copse corner. Downshift from fifth to fourth gear, power past the apex, sliding to the outside of the road, hitting 170 miles an hour in fifth gear. Brake, and downshift again, for the 120 mile per hour Becketts corner.
Lapped traffic in the way, and we head now, onto Hangar straight. This is one of the fastest parts of the track. Lloyd is going to have to try threading the needle here, with a trio of other Porsche 956’s, and here comes Stowe corner and the grandstands. Don’t get too close as you peel through Silverstone’s fastest turn. At Club corner, Richard Lloyd can see the Canon Porsche he owns, ahead. 140 miles per hour through Club corner. Try to hit 200 miles an hour at the Express bridge. Uphill, through Abbey in fifth gear, pulling 8,000 RPM. We hit 200 miles per hour under the bridge, and are on the verge of nipping past the Canon car.
No dice. Too much traffic. Lloyd is frustrated by having his lap ruined, and has to get past his competitor, the red Grid sports car #21. This is the Charles Ivey Racing entry, the Grid S2 powered by the 2.8 liter flat six twin turbo Porsche 930 motor as opposed to the Type 935/76 2.6 liter twin turbo flat six in the back of a 956. Three British drivers share the Grid car for this race. John Cooper is sharing with Dudley Wood and Barry Robinson. The run for the pole continues hot and heavy and Jacky Ickx returns from his qualifying lap only to complain about heavy traffic holding him up, preventing him from going for pole. Jochen Mass has a decision to make.
He decides to go out on racing tires and not qualifying tires, not going for a flying lap, but going instead for the optimum setup for the race itself. Porsche will indeed have the front row of the grid, or a spot there. Ickx and Mass won at Monza, in the season opener, last time out. Jacky Ickx is pleased with pole, and likes the competition factor Lancia provides. Porsche does not know the source of the trouble for their motors right now. More than 40 cars are entered for the Silverstone 1,000 Kilometers. Keep up the fight against the private Porsche’s and Lancia, as well as the sister Rothmans car. No team orders. Fitted with qualifying tires, Stefan Bellof wants to do a flyer. Dr. Bott, Porsche engine man, warns to look after the engine. There is only one more fresh racing engine for this weekend at Silverstone. This is the last one we have.
Rothmans Porsche has been eating up engines, like cookies off a platter. Bellof lost a motor on Friday in practice, and Bell, during Saturday morning practice. Both Rothmans cars are on their race engines. Bellof is back into the lane a lap after setting off on his qualifying run. Cue the dun dun duuun! horror music! The new lump in the back of the Porsche 956 is misfiring badly. Cough, sputter, cough. The Bosch Motronic engine management system is changed, but the problem persists. Jacky Ickx discusses with Norbert Singer that the new motor is down on power. So, Porsche’s weekend, particularly the Rothmans team, it is all going pear shaped here at Silverstone.
Porsche assistant Team Director Peter Falk is also worried. It is decided that new parts are to be flown in, from Germany, and a complete rebuild will happen. New pistons are needed. The pistons are the culprit as to why the engines are coughing, sputtering, and not running. Ickx and Mass’ confidence has been deflated, and now, instead of lowering lap records, Stefan Bellof has to patiently wait for the motor to be rebuilt. The situation is no better at Lancia. Lancia has a misfire for their cars, and this too, means that Paolo Barilla and Mauro Baldi, are also stuck in a rut. They can’t lower their best lap times either, as the thrash also goes on in their garage, to get the cars fixed.
The engine electronics systems for each Lancia LC2/84 is taken apart and rebuilt. Tire troubles for Lancia, though, should be a thing of the past, as new Speedline wheels will prevent rim failure and tire punctures. Lancia is now running on Dunlop tires, to put them on par with the factory Porsche’s. The Jolly Club Lancia, #6, for Beppe Gabbiani and Pierluigi Martini, pits. Gabbiani won the Silverstone Formula 2 race in 1983. Also favored is Richard Lloyd and Canon Porsche/GTi Engineering with Jan Lammers and Johnny Palmer. Now, they have another car here, without anything in it. It’ll have to be filled with lead. Aha. April Fools! Or, May Fools! That’s the show car. The crew can pick it up, and move it.
Skoal Bandit Porsche looks competitive. David Hobbs and Thierry Boutsen are fifth quick, while the sister car is ninth with Rupert Keegan and Guy Edwards, but having problems. The car is belching smoke, in the pit lane. Oh dear. It’s a turbo fire, but thankfully, it is minor. There are interesting reactions from the drivers. David Hobbs is horrified, and yet, Thierry Boutsen brushes it off like, “no biggie”. John Fitzpatrick, team manager is also racing a third car here at Silverstone this weekend. The #34 Bob Jane T Marts Team Australia 956 is in the hands of Peter Brock and Larry Perkins. Brock and Perkins are both stars of Australian saloon car racing, and Perkins also did some Formula 1 racing back in the day.
#34 qualifies 11th quick for the race. Look out for Aston Martin, with their lineup of Mike Salmon and former F1 racer and Le Mans winner, Richard Attwood. John Sheldon is the third driver in the Aston, who is the recent Sports 2000 champion. The Aston Martin V8 beast, has 60 more horsepower than the factory Porsche’s and Lancia’s. Speaking of Porsche power, one to watch in this race will be the #35 Procar Automobile AG with Dutchman Huub Rothengatter and German Claus Schickentanz sharing the driving duties. Barry Robinson tosses the #21 Grid Porsche into the sand trap at Copse, but incur no damage. No wonder a sticker on the Grid car reads, “Danger, Demo Man”.
Watch too for the Anglo Japanese team in the #38 Dorset Racing Dome RC82 Ford Cosworth. The chassis is actually built by March, and the team does have an all-British lineup. Richard Jones, Mark Galvin, and John Williams, will share the car. The #13 Primagaz Team Cougar car is also expected to run well, the Primagaz Team Cougar Cougar C01B Ford, a Nicholson built Ford Cosworth DFL V8 with Yves Courage of France, team owner, and British sports car ace with a French name, Alain de Cadenet. Also, look for another Cosworth powered car. This, the #65 Lola T610 for John Bartlett, the car owner, John Brindley, and Steve Kempton, another all British team.
Obermaier Racing is back with their #18 Porsche 956 with a familiar cast of drivers, from the previous season. South Africa’s George Fouche, sharing with Jurgen Lassig of Germany, and Herve Regout, of Belgium. Also, look for the #7 New Man Porsche. Reinhold Joest and team manager Domingo Pierdadas have in this 956, Henri Pescarolo of France, and Klaus Ludwig of Germany. Sweden’s Stefan Johansson is listed, but it is unclear whether he’ll drive the car in the race or not, and is purely a reserve driver. #7 qualifies sixth on the grid. Pescarolo has three wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and Ludwig, is contracted to race with Ford in IMSA in 1984. We also have the Kremer Porsche back this year. A new driver lineup and a new sponsor for this team, the #11 Kremer Racing Dallas Porsche 956, will be shared by Franz Konrad of Austria, and Brit David Sutherland.
Winner at Le Mans last year, Vern Schuppan, has the wheel of the #19 Brun Motorsport GmbH Porsche 956, sharing with car owner Walter Brun, and Hans Stuck. Brun is upset because one of the car’s engines has already lunched itself this weekend. Massimo Sigala and Oscar Larrauri are back, at Silverstone. Remember that wild flip they had at Monza? Well, the car is repaired, and #9 is ready to race again. They run seventh quickest in practice. In C2, Alba might have it all their own way here at Silverstone, because the Lola Mazda’s from BFGoodrich Racing are not here. Three Alba’s are at the top of C2. Carlo Facetti and Martino Finotto in #80. Marco Vanoli, Davide Pavia, and Almo Coppelli are in car #81.
The #82 machine has three more Italian drivers. Maurizio Gellini, Pasquale Barberio, and Gerardo Vatielli are sharing the car. Mazdaspeed has their 727C with the two rotor rotary engine, in C2. Yojiro Terada is sharing with Pierre Dieudonne. The C2 cars have restricted fuel and lower weight, as well as smaller engines. The Duke of Norfolk’s son, Eddie Arundel has a car entered here at Silverstone in C2. Arundel has jcbuilt his own car, the Arundel C200, with the ubiquitous 3.0 liter Ford Cosworth DFV V8. Arundel sharing with fellow Brit James Weaver, who would go on to have a stellar sports car racing career, and John Jellinek from the U.S.
Also on the C2 grid is the West German Gebhardt JC842 powered by a 2.0 liter BMW 4 cylinder, being shared by Brit Bob Evans, and Germany’s Frank Jelinski. Don’t count out the #70 Tiga GC84 Ford for Spice-Tiga Racing, to be shared Gordon Spice and Ray Bellm, in their home race in Britain, and Australian Neil Crang. The car is sponsored by Wasp Eze. Scotland’s Ecurie Ecosse are back, with their Ecosse Ford, for Mike Wilds, and David Duffield. Alba thought they’d have it made in the shade, but the Ecosse is going to give the Italian team all they can handle, and more.
The carparks are full of fans. Metro minicars provide a support race for the big show. Endurance racing challenges Formula 1 in popularity. The race is dry, but the weather has a chill in it. 44 cars will start this motor race, as they work their way around the circuit, behind the safety car. The cars stream down the Hangar straight. There won’t be a bigger field, save for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, this year. Now, the safety car pulls off, and we are green at Silverstone!
We will race 212 laps. Into Copse corner for the first time. Bob Wollek and Riccardo Patrese will lead into turn one. The weather is dry, with no threat of rain. Early on, Riccardo Patrese battles with Jochen Mass. Martini Lancia vs. Rothmans Porsche, as we’ve come to expect so far this season. The trouble is, with traffic. The backmarker C2 and Group B GT cars, those drivers don’t necessarily look in their mirrors to notice one of the faster Prototypes catching up on them. Alba, Tiga, and Ecosse, those three cars and teams are scrapping for C2 honors at the moment. At least four Group C2 cars are in a hotly contested race. Commentator Brian Kreisky equates it with the early days of Formula 3. That’s how intense the competition is. The #4 Wollek/Patrese Lancia continues to lead the motor race overall. We have a new contender. In third, yes, it’s our old pals, the #14 Canon Porsche 956 with Jan Lammers and Jonathan Palmer sharing the driving duties.
Lancia could play a spoiler here at Silverstone, depending on their reliability throughout the 1,000 kilometer race. Oh dear. We have a spinner! Off the road, getting crossed up, is Peter Brock in the #34 Team Australia Porsche 956 he is sharing with Larry Perkins, two legends of Australian motorsport, particularly in touring cars. That is a second or third John Fitzpatrick Racing entered 956. No harm, no foul. Brock continues on in the race. Lancia leads Group C, while in Group C2, there is a new leader, the #70 Tiga Ford for Spice-Tiga Racing with Ray Bellm, Gordon Spice, and Neil Crang. Wow. The Canon Porsche is up to second overall, and will be giving the Rothmans boys a run for their money today.
#14 is on a charge, but he’s having some difficulty with the backmarkers. The Palmer/Lammers team, is quickly closing up on the Patrese/Wollek Lancia. The #1 Rothmans Porsche 956 holds third, with the usual pairing of Jochen Mass and Jacky Ickx. Their team car, follows, #2 of Stefan Bellof and Derek Bell. In fifth spot, is the #33 Skoal Bandit Fitzpatrick Racing Porsche 956, of Thierry Boutsen and David Hobbs. Also in the top six is the #55, the second Skoal Bandit Porsche 956, with Rupert Keegan and Guy Edwards sharing the car.
Lancia hits the pit lane. They thought they had the fuel mileage, but the Canon Porsche goes longer on a tank of petrol, and now leads it’s second consecutive race in the WEC. Engine gremlins have struck Lancia. It could be game over for them, as Riccardo Patrese sits forlornly in the cockpit. Rothmans Porsche bring car #1 to pit lane. The #2 Bell/Bellof Porsche pits, and there is one more Lancia still in contention. That’s the team car #5, for Paolo Barilla and Mauro Baldi. The #14 Canon Porsche is still leading the factory Rothmans cars. Pit stop time again for the Lammers/Palmer entry. At halfway, the race for the Bell/Bellof #2 Rothmans 956 had gone pear shaped. They were outside the top ten, just barely hanging on.
Riccardo Patrese is back in the race in the Lancia, but is being lapped by the Porsche’s, including the #1 Ickx/Mass Rothmans car. Barilla/Baldi in the sister Lancia, they remain in the fight in the top six. Johnny Palmer tries to lap David Hobbs in the #33 Skoal Bandit Porsche, but Hobbs is having none of it, and there’s nearly some argy bargy between those two! Gently, boys. More mechanical woes for Stefan Bellof and Derek Bell. The turbocharger is playing up, and by the same token, Thierry Boutsen and David Hobbs in the Skoal car have also hit trouble. Boutsen is having gear selection trouble. Something is wrong with the transmission, or more likely, the shifter linkage. None of the Rothmans Porsche drivers look too pleased.
However, their fortunes may change. There’s smoke spewing from the back of the #14 Canon Porsche as it enters pit lane. There was an oil line that had come loose from the motor on the Canon car. So, Palmer and Lammers would lose the lead and have to settle for a fifth place finish. Up to second, comes a car we have not heard much of at all in this race. The #7 New Man Porsche 956 of Henri Pescarolo and Klaus Ludwig. One lap left. Paolo Barilla and Mauro Baldi will finish fourth in the surviving Lancia LC2/84. Jacky Ickx, and Jochen Mass, in the #1 Rothmans Porsche, they win the Silverstone 1,000 Kilometers! Pescarolo and Ludwig finish second, with the #55 Skoal Bandit Porsche of Rupert Keegan and Guy Edwards, rounding out the podium. In the meantime, after their dramas, the sister Skoal Bandit Porsche, #33, of David Hobbs and Thierry Boutsen, claws their way back to finish eighth overall.
Not so lucky, though is Jurgen Lassig in the #18 Obermaier Racing Porsche 956! He loses the left front wheel, headed for the finish. Therefore, he and team mates George Fouche and Herve Regout, are demoted by the David Sutherland driven #11 Porsche 956 for Kremer Racing, that he shared for this race, with Austria’s Franz Konrad. So, Porsche wins, and in Group C2, the winner is the #81 Jolly Club Alba Giannini of Almo Coppelli, Marco Vanoli, and Davide Pavia. Let’s look at the results.
- #1 Ickx/Mass Porsche 956 Rothmans Porsche
- #7 Ludwig/Pescarolo Porsche 956 New Man Porsche
- #55 Keegan/Edwards Porsche 956 Skoal Bandit Porsche
- #5 Barilla/Baldi Lancia LC2/84 Martini Racing
- #14 Palmer/Lammers Porsche 956 GTi Engineering/Canon Porsche
- #11 Konrad/Sutherland Porsche 956 Kremer Engineering
#81 Coppelli/Vanoli/Pavia Jolly Club Alba AR2 Giannini Carma
Next up, it’s the fabled 24 Hours of Le Mans, in France.