For the first time in many years, the FIA World Endurance Championship comes to North America. This is a very serene, picturesque venue here in Canada, and the Group C cars, are joined by a few regulars from the IMSA GTO championship, as opposed to the Group B cars from Europe. But, it will be a small field that starts the motor race. Porsche will likely have things all their own way, here in Canada. The Lancia Martini team decided to skip the trip to North America. They are not competing.
Car #33, the Skoal Bandit Porsche will see West Germany’s Franz Konrad joining David Hobbs and Rupert Keegan on the driver’s strength for this race. There will be just one Skoal Bandit entry. The sister car #55 with Rupert Keegan, Franz Konrad, and Guy Edwards (who never drove it in this race), crashed in free practice. Game over for #55, and the car was sidelined for the remainder of the race weekend.
It’s going to come down to a battle between the Rothmans factory cars as well as the New Man Porsche for Henri Pescarolo and company. The privately entered Porsche’s will play a part in this motor race. Much like Brands Hatch last time out, Mosport is an undulating track that makes drivers feel like they are heading somewhere when racing on it. We’re ready to get this motor race in Canada, underway.
Now, for some reason, the flagman has the yellow flag showing. But, that isn’t going to stop the drivers from getting the motor race underway. Press the accelerator! Away we go! Half the field drops the hammer and wants to go for it. Of the 16 starters, eight guys want to get on with the job, and eight others probably see that yellow flag and think, “OK, best slow down.” The marshals don’t like the look of this start. The red flag is displayed. Let’s re-rack them, boys. OK, do overs. Stefan Bellof leads the way, from pole, and we do get green this time! Green flag, and away we go!
In the battle of the Rothmans Porsche’s its Jacky Ickx getting away in the lead over Stefan Bellof. On the far end of the circuit, we plunge downhill and then, turn through the famous Moss corner, at turn five, named for Formula 1 champion and racing legend, Sir Stirling Moss. Jacky Ickx leads Stefan Bellof, Oscar Larrauri, David Hobbs, Vern Schuppan, and in sixth, Canadian hometown hero, Bill Adam, sharing the #20 Kremer Brothers Sperry Turbo sponsored 956 with countryman Kees Nierop (also in his home race), and our old pal, South Africa’s George Fouche.
Stefan Bellof, meanwhile, takes the lead from Jacky Ickx. The track here at Mosport is very bumpy. Races have gone on for many years here at the track, since this event. But back in the day, this place had a washboard surface. The track is slated for resurfacing in 1985. We’ll cover that race when we can, as these season retrospectives on Group C, continue. Vern Schuppan in the third Rothmans Porsche, #3 he is sharing with Nick Mason, Pink Floyd’s drummer, Schuppan is having a tough old time trying to pass team mate and championship contender, Stefan Bellof. Poor old Jacky Ickx, however, he’s dropping back, losing time to the two sister Rothmans machines.
Holding down third is Oscar Larrauri in the #19 Team Gaggia Porsche 956 he shares with Swiss car owner Walter Brun. This team had two reserve drivers on hand for the race who could have been called up if need be. They are Walt Bohren, from the United States (an IMSA regular), and Italian Massimo Sigala. But, their services were not needed. Uh oh! We’ve had a clatter into barriers, as the Gebhardt running in the C2 division, has lost its whole nose. He’s gone crunch, straight into the wall. Game over for the #73 Pepsi Challenger Gebhardt with the Ford Cosworth DFV lump in it. Once again, the lump is the engine.
But, it’s day done for Canadian drivers John Graham and George Schwarz. Full course yellow now, and thus, the field forms up behind the safety car. The marshals have towed the Gebhardt to safety, and Stefan Bellof restarts the race in the lead. The battle for second heats up. Oscar Larrauri is applying the blowtorch to Jacky Ickx at the moment. Meanwhile, behind the leading trio, David Hobbs has a solid fourth place in the Skoal Bandit Porsche. Larrauri finally disposes of Ickx, before it’s pit stop time for the Rothmans crew, as it’s Derek Bell taking over from Stefan Bellof. Bellof is so quick to get out of the car, one of his pit crew has to tell him, “Stefan, please help your team mate get buckled in.”
Fuel and tires done, Bell suited and booted, and in the car, and he rejoins the race. David Hobbs has moved the #33 car up to third overall. After an off course excursion, Oscar Larrauri loses third before he makes his pit stop. Bellof and Bell are a lap up on everyone else as the cars whiz down the Mario Andretti straightaway. In Group C2, meanwhile problems for Carlo Facetti as his Alba Giannini entry is damaged. So, he and Italian team mates Alfredo Sebastiani, and Martino Finotto have not had the race they wanted, here in Canada. Their sister car, #81 goes around into the C2 class lead, with Guido Dacco and Almo Coppelli sharing the driving chores.
There’s a change at the front as the sister #1 Rothmans Porsche heads for the lead. Alternator issues have plagued Bellof and Bell in their efforts here at Mosport. The alternator on the #2 Rothmans Porsche is not keeping the battery charged. They’ve sunk to sixth overall. More problems as during a refueling stop, Bellof brought the car to the lane, but the fuel has ignited on the red hot turbo, and caused a fire. Thankfully, a crewman shouts a warning to Bellof. “Stop!” He hits the fire bottles and they spray the Porsche in extinguishing foam.
Bellof is able to continue, trying to soldier on and salvage a top three place if he can. Meanwhile, Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass in the team Rothmans Porsche are on a Sunday cruise to a win here in Canada, eh. Despite losing a wheel during the 1,000 kilometers, David Hobbs and Franz Konrad, those two recover to second overall. We have a third place for a C2 car and that’s the aforementioned machine with Guido Dacco and Almo Coppelli sharing the wheel of it. Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass complete 253 laps and win in Canada! With the victory, Jochen Mass takes the points lead in the FIA WEC.
We look at the results of the Mosport 1,000 kilometers.
- #2 Bellof/Bell Porsche 956 Rothmans Porsche
- #33 Hobbs/Keegan/Konrad Porsche 956 Skoal Bandit Porsche
- #81 Coppelli/Dacco Alba AR2 Giannini Carma Jolly Club
- #2 Bellof/Bell Porsche 956 Rothmans Porsche
- #82 Barberio/Gellini/Vatielli Alba AR3 Ford Maurizio Gellini
Hats off to the other Alba squad, the Maurizio Gellini team of Italy, finishing second in C2 and fifth in the overall, with the Italian trio of Pasquale Barberio, Maurizio Gellini (the team and car owner), and Gerardo Vatielli. Next up, it’s another legendary race at a legendary venue. The race is the Spa 1,000 Kilometers at Spa Francorchamps in the Ardennes forest of Belgium, just over a month away.