In the first four rounds of the championship, it has been all Porsche, but, it’s been different teams with different fortunes. Rothmans Porsche have won just twice, while we’ve also seend victories collected by Kremer Porsche and Joest Porsche. Here at Hockenheim, we’re ready for the start, as it’s all Rothmans Porsche across the front row. It’s a green flag, and away we go! Lancia Martini incidentally could only muster sixth and eighth on a grid of 36 starters, and there’s an off course excursion already! Oscar Larrauri, loses it, and does a little autocross before returning to the pavement. Larrauri, as per usual, shares the #18 Brun Motorsport Porsche 956 with Massimo Sigala.
There’s some argy bargy on the front row already, as we see Manfred Winkelhock muscling past Hans Stuck for the early lead here in Germany. It’s a fierce battle between two of the best German sports car drivers. It’s a hot one here at Hockenheim today, temperatures in the 90 degree Fahrenheit range, with high humidity. It’s a sweltering summer’s day indeed. Jochen Mass’ team mate Hans Stuck has a grandstand view of the action as do we as we’re aboard the Porsche 962 thanks to the onboard camera. Manfred Winkelhock charges into an early lead with Hans Stuck second, just a handful of minutes on the board, in this six hour or 1,000 kilometer event. We see Stefan Bellof, the German, taking the lead away from countryman Manfred Winkelhock. There’s pride on the line for the German drivers in the Porsche’s at their home race.
Riccardo Patrese in the Lancia, #4 he has clawed his way from sixth place into third place. Patrese has now become the Italian salami in the middle of two pieces of German pumpernickel bread as it were. Porsche, Lancia, Porsche. Hans Stuck and Jochen Mass in the Rothmans Porsche’s hold third and fourth at the moment. Manfred Winkelhock has managed to pass Riccardo Patrese, as Stefan Bellof sharing with Belgium’s Thierry Boutsen continues to lead this motor race. Third place is now taken by Hans Stuck, over the Lancia, entering Hockenheim’s legendary stadium section. The top two are in sight as Manfred Winkelhock is the hound, with Stefan Bellof playing the rabbit right now.
Bellof’s lead has ballooned to five seconds over Winkelhock, but behind Winkelhock there’s a major scrap. Both Rothmans Porsche’s have managed to pass Riccardo Patrese in the Martini Lancia #4. Patrese is on a fuel conservation/fuel mileage strategy, for obvious reasons. Hans Stuck is continuing to chase Manfred Winkelhock, and dear me, Winkelhock nearly goes off the road! He saved it, but has lost a place to Stuck, the man we ride with on the onboard camera in that Porsche 962. One of the real concerns here at Hockenheim, is the number of people that the race organizers actually let visit the pit lane during the race itself. This is beyond ridiculous, and during the race in 1985, the situation almost had a fatal twist.
Come with me, now, as we delve into how not to marshal a race in the pit lane. It’s scheduled pit stop time for the Stuck/Bell Porsche. All looks routine. Fill the car with fuel, and change the tires, and then send the driver back into the race to keep soldiering on, right? Wrong. Pure, unadulterated mayhem in the lane! Fire has broken out in the Rothmans Porsche pit! The worst nightmare of any racing driver! Hans Stuck and the Rothmans pit crew are running for their lives! This inferno has started right in front of the pit storage compound full of 40 gallon drums of high octane racing fuel! This is extremely dangerous. An emergency of the highest order!
The surreal and inconceivable part of this is that the mechanics themselves have to break out the fire hoses and put out the blaze because the fire company here at Hockenheim is a joke. They didn’t even notice there was a blaze in the pit lane! One brave pit crew member, he turns off the air lines to the oxygen cylinders. Derek Bell stays in the car, and is as cool as a cucumber despite this pandemonium going on around him as Hans Stuck is overcome by smoke and flames. The team has lost less time than expected. But, this is ridiculous because there are still people standing down in pit lane. It looks more like a rally stage than a sports car race.
If anyone should be fined by the FIA, it is the Hockenheim race organizers because they’ve allowed anyone and everyone to come into the pit lane where only the pit crews should be to service the cars, and the driver’s to drive them. It’s dangerous and unnecessary to have people standing around, shooting the breeze in the pit lane. End of story. Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass in the #1 Rothmans Porsche, they are delayed by some five minutes due to the fire incident. While this entire hubbub has been going on in pit lane, Thierry Boutsen in the #19 Brun Porsche, the blue and white Schiesser sponsored car, has taken the lead from Manfred Winkelhock. Derek Bell has recovered to third overall.
Porsche team manager, Norbert Singer, has received serious burns after the fire and is being tended to by the medical staff. His burns will keep him in hospital for a good while. Three other team members also went to the hospital, but were not injured as seriously as Singer. Manfred Winkelhock in the #9 Kremer Porsche he shares with Marc Surer, is pursuing leader Thierry Boutsen in an all Porsche battle at the front. For a change in Group C2, Gordon Spice and Ray Bellm are running second in the Spice Tiga are running second to the #79 Ecosse Ford Cosworth for the legendary Ecurie Ecosse team, with Bovis sponsorship. This is the all-British crew of Ray Mallock, David Leslie, and Mike Wilds.
Mauro Baldi has a quick spin in the #5 sister Lancia he also shares with Bob Wollek, and keeps on trucking. Wot, No Jags! It says on a garage sign. Well, Jaguar will be back, with a new team headed by Tom Walkinshaw, coming up at the next race in Canada at Mosport. Stay tuned for that. Thierry Boutsen is in the lane for service, with a 20 second cushion over Manfred Winkelhock, and Boutsen will hand the car to the eagerly waiting Stefan Bellof so Bellof can go out and do his stint, trying to keep the car in the lead of this motor race.
25 seconds behind the Kremer Porsche is the Bell/Stuck Rothmans entry, making another scheduled pit stop for fuel and tires. But, then, there’s another pit fire! Would you believe it?! Manfred Winkelhock brought the #10 Kremer Porsche in, with a split fuel tank, and it erupts in flames! It is so hot here at Hockenheim that the fuel vapor blows back through the fuel lines igniting on the red hot turbocharger, and igniting the ruptured fuel tank as well. The fuel tank ignites a second time. The second Brun Porsche 956, #20 driven by Walter Brun and Austrian touring car and later Formula 1 pilot Gerhard Berger, is in the pit behind the Kremer team.
It’s left up to the teams to put out these fires, because the German fire department doing their version of a keystone cops movie fire drill, spraying water every which way except on the fire, and on unsuspecting people who are in the lane! The fire brigade here at Hockenheim is nothing more than a disgrace. Yet another fire has broken out in the pit lane, for the #34 Cosmic Racing Promotions March 84G Porsche, and this time, the firemen arrive, but it is three strikes, you’re out, because the team has already extinguished the blaze. It’s game over for the driving team of Mikael Nabrink of Sweden, Germany’s Christian Danner, and Costas Los from Greece, but it’s also game over, and definitely pink slip time for the members of the Hockenheim fire brigade.
If you were walking up the pit lane at Hockenheim today, it resembles a street in Lebanon, or in some third world nation torn apart by unrest. Unbelievable! On lap 100, its retirement for Stefan Bellof and Thierry Boutsen, as the electrical system on the Brun Porsche 956 has gone on the blink. Also out, are Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass in the #1 Rothmans Porsche 962, after the engine expires. This puts Hans Stuck and Derek Bell into the race lead. Alessandro Nannini in the #4 Lancia is piling on the pressure, applying the blowtorch, closing to within 25 seconds of the Stuck/Bell car. But, with three minutes left, Nannini’s fuel tank runs dry, and for the first time in 1985, Derek Bell and Hans Stuck win a Group C sports car race!
It is Derek Bell and Hans Stuck’s first 1985 win.
- #2 Stuck/Bell Porsche 962C Rothmans Porsche
- #18 Larrauri/Sigala Porsche 956 Brun Motorsport
- #7 Ludwig/Barilla Porsche 956 New Man-Joest Racing
New points leaders in the driver’s championship. Derek Bell and Hans Stuck now are at the top of the tree.
- Derek Bell & Hans Stuck 62 points
- Derek Bell & Hans Stuck 62 points
- Jacky Ickx & Jochen Mass 51 points
- Jacky Ickx & Jochen Mass 51 points
- Klaus Ludwig 46 points
- Marc Surer & Manfred Winkelhock 45 points
Here’s how the teams championship looks after Hockenheim.
- Rothmans Porsche 72 points
- Joest New Man Porsche 38 points
- Lancia Martini 38 points
- Kremer Porsche Racing 35 points