The FIA WEC closes its season “Down Under” in Australia, at Sandown Park, as we watch footage of native wildlife. Koalas and kangaroos abound. We are present at the newly renovated Sandown Park Raceway just outside Melbourne, Australia. It’s the first ever WEC event in Australia. The Lancia Martini team elected to sit out the finale and not go to Australia. An additional entry will be the camera car, set to be driven by Johnny Dumfries, and Australian motor racing legend, Sir Jack Brabham, the three-time Formula 1 World Champion. The track here at Sandown, had been resurfaced prior to this race, but was beginning to break up during practice.
Track breakup would reoccur during the race itself. It will be a highlight, or lowlight of the action. Major representation among the Porsche teams here in Australia. Rothmans, Joest, Canon Porsche, Skoal Bandit, they’re all here. The championship battle is between Stefan Bellof and Jochen Mass, with the aforementioned third works Porsche, shared by 1980 Formula 1 World Champion, and native Aussie Alan Jones, along with Vern Schuppan, another Australian.
We are underway with the finale, at Sandown! The Australian’s lead their home race as we dive into the first corner on the first lap, here, at Sandown. Johnny Dumfries, the 1984 British Formula 3 champion, has the camera car. Rothmans Porsche leads, with #3 leading #2 leading #1. Dumfries is in car #56. Alan Jones leads Stefan Bellof, as Jochen Mass spins. Thierry Boutsen is in third, again driving the #33 Skoal Bandit Porsche 956 with David Hobbs. Jochen Mass is down in 17th spot at the moment, which isn’t good for his world championship hopes.
Battles ensue throughout the field as Stefan Bellof takes the lead of the motor race. Thierry Boutsen, Jan Lammers, Manfred Winkelhock, and Klaus Ludwig all follow behind as it is a Porsche parade at the moment. Stefan Bellof has pulled clear of Alan Jones, who in turn is being pressurized by Thierry Boutsen. Many different classes of cars are running in this race. We have Group C, Group B, one IMSA GTP spec car, (the #131 Chuck Kendall, and Jim Cook Lola T600 Chevrolet, they are sharing this weekend with Australia’s Peter Fitzgerald), and we have five automobiles in the AC or Australian Cars division.
These entries include the following cars:
#61 Alfredo Costanzo & Bap Romano Bap Romano Racing Romano WE84 Ford Cosworth
#62 Jim Richards & Tony Longhurst JPS Team BMW BMW 320
#63 Brad Jones/Thompson P.F. Motor Racing P/L Mercedes 450 SLC (the car is not powered by a Mercedes engine, but rather by a classic 350 cubic inch Chevrolet small block V8).
#64 Allan Grice, Dick Johnson, & Ron Harrop Re-car Racing Pty. Ltd. Chevrolet Monza (powered by a 6.0 liter Chevrolet V8)
#65 Jeff Harris, Ray Hanger, & Barry Jones Jeff Harris JWS C2 Mazda Rotary
Alan Jones is battling for second place, but a momentary off road excursion demotes him and allows the #33 Skoal Bandit Porsche, the Hobbs/Boutsen car, to pass. We watch Johnny Dumfries. He is trying extremely hard. He is fighting the high G force loads exerted on his body in a ground effects sports car. You can hear he is uncomfortable, trying to fight the car into the turns… ugh, argh, aggh!, ugh, ughhh!, as if he is in pain. This is true. He has to really be feeling it in his core and his back, as well as his arms, and through the seat.
He’s straining every sinew trying to keep the Porsche 956 on the circuit, hence all those audible ugh, arrgh, ughhh sounds. With the breakup of the track and these low to the ground, ground effects sports cars, your body does take a thrashing if you are not used to it. Plus, he has to manhandle the car without power steering, so before the end of his stint, his arms feel like tree trunks, and the thrashing over the bumps of the circuit, that can’t be doing his back or his insides any good either.
He’s feeling every single bump on the circuit and every single twitch of the Porsche as he’s inputting the steering. Accelerate, upshift, downshift, turn, and brake. Under braking, turning into the corner, you are giving it everything, and your brain is telling your body… I can’t take this! No doubt certain parts of his body are taking a beating here. Race car drivers are very tough, hearty souls. But, here at Sandown, Johnny Dumfries was only just beginning to really be accustomed to how the big sports car handles, and he had to be spent after his stint. Wouldn’t you be?
Another driver, trying hard, but maybe not feeling too much of the effects of the bumps, is Kees Kroesemeijer. Kroesemeijer, the Dutchman, is sharing the #17 Kremer Porsche 956 with co-drivers Jesus Pareja of Spain, and Aussie Peter Janson. Kees’ spin, shows us that the track breakup in the heat here at Sandown Park is becoming a concern. No wonder Johnny Dumfries was uncomfortable in the car. Jochen Mass, meanwhile, in the #1 Porsche 956 is charging through the field. The track is breaking up in the hot sun since we are in midsummer in Australia, with temperatures in the low 30s on the Celsius scale, which is well over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pit stop time for the #2 Rothmans Porsche. Stefan Bellof, out, and Derek Bell, in. Jochen Mass is in the lane, but in the process of coming in, he nearly collides with the exiting Porsche 956, with Rusty French at the controls. French, the Aussie, is sharing the #11 Kremer Racing Porsche 956 with Manfred Winkelhock, here at Sandown. Mass finally pits, and has to be going like the clappers, as he’s been overtaken by the Hobbs/Boutsen Skoal Bandit Porsche #33. Ickx might be trying a tad too hard! He goes off the road, and scrapes the Armco barrier. The breakup of the track is not helping matters at all.
A momentary error and you’re off the circuit, giving a whole new meaning to the expression in the Australian song, “Waltzing Matilda”. Ickx is inching closer to Boutsen. Meanwhile, the C2 class URD C81 BMW has spun. This brings out the safety car, while the marshals attend to that automobile, #90, shared by the Danish duo of Jens Winther and Lars-Viggo Jensen. This Full Course Yellow will no doubt help the leaders in their quest to win this motor race. The Bellof/Bell #2 Porsche leads with the #33 Boutsen/Hobbs machine second. Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass still run third. Now, the #56 Rothmans Porsche 956 is still in this race.
Sir Jack Brabham, the Formula 1 hero, is now at the wheel, undoubtedly having a far easier time keeping the car on the road than co-driver Johnny Dumfries was, earlier. He is enjoying himself thoroughly, on a Sunday drive, in his return to international motor racing. After the safety car, Thierry Boutsen managed to take the lead from the Rothmans Porsche. …And, as the circuit continues to break up (it did during the whole of the race), Jacky Ickx is off the road another time. At the sharp end, blokes, we have a full on fight between Skoal Bandit Porsche and the works Rothmans car.
This is a battle of the best. Thierry Boutsen and Stefan Bellof, are arguably the two best sports car drivers of 1984. Bellof would retake the lead, and go on to win not just the race, but also, the 1984 FIA World Endurance Championship drivers’ title. Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass recover to second, at the expense of David Hobbs, who is out of the race towards the end. Electrical problems sidelined the Skoal Bandit entry. The checkered flag comes down over Stefan Bellof! He wins the 1984 FIA World Endurance Championship! So, we look at the results of the final event of the year.
- #2 Bellof/Bell Porsche 956 Rothmans Porsche
- #1 Ickx/Mass Porsche 956 Rothmans Porsche
- #14 Palmer/Lammers Porsche 956 Canon Porsche
- #10 van der Merwe/Fouche Porsche 956 Porsche Kremer Racing
- #11 Winkelhock/French Porsche 956 Porsche Kremer Racing
- #34 Bond/Miedecke Porsche 962 John Fitzpatrick Racing
It should be noted, there in sixth, is one of the new Porsche 962 machines, the evolution on the 956 model, coming home sixth overall in the hands of Aussie drivers Colin Bond and Andrew Miedecke for John Fitzpatrick Racing. It’s a great achievement for a new car. The final points tally of the season sees Stefan Bellof as champion with 138 points over Jochen Mass on 127, Jacky Ickx on 104, Derek Bell and Henri Pescarolo tied at 91 points, and with 75 points in sixth, Johnny Palmer and Jan Lammers.
In 1985, the manufacturer’s championship will no longer exist. It will be a teams’ championship in the FIA WEC. Jaguar will be back, will a full on factory entry next year, too. It will be Jaguar, Lancia, and Porsche. With more cars, new tracks, and a new championship format, the 1985 season looks to be the best yet. We keep topping ourselves, every year. See you, in ’85. So long, everyone.