The World Sports Car Championship makes its annual North American sojourn, to Mosport Park, in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada. Some of the IMSA competitors from the United States have added their GT class cars to the field, and of course, IMSA has their own prototype championship known as GTP. Adding to the race here in Canada, are a number of U.S. and Canadian based IMSA teams running their GT class production cars, as well as the two, phenomenally prepared Tom Walkinshaw Racing factory Jaguar XJR6’s. Car #51 will be shared by Britain’s Martin Brundle, a current Formula 1 driver, and New Zealander, Mike Thackwell, while #52 has Thackwell and Brundle on the entry as well.
Mike Thackwell is listed, and so is Hans Heyer, but the German never did start this race for the new Jaguar team. Both Jaguars are on the same performance level as the privately entered Porsche’s despite having no turbocharging, and relying solely on engine displacement, running 6.2 liter normally aspirated 60 degree, 378 cubic inch V12 engines. Brundle and Thackwell have qualified third on the grid at 1:12.602. The Schlesser/Heyer car is two seconds slower, running a best lap at 1:14.782. Both Jaguars are right on pace with the rest of the field in the World Sports Car Championship.
Team boss Tom Walkinshaw is the genius behind these British Racing Green prototypes, and TWR is the reigning European saloon car championship winning team. Walkinshaw says “this has gone the way we expected. We couldn’t outrun the Porsche because they can turn up the boost. The problem we have is that the circuit is very rough, and we can’t get the right downforce without sucking the car right onto the road. We smashed up a couple noses. But, we want to take part in every remaining race this year, and come back for the full 1986 championship.”
This is Martin Brundle’s first sports car race. He is a Formula 1 Grand Prix racer. Brundle says the car feels good and knows Jaguar can’t be on the front row without a turbo. But they are focusing on balancing the car out and getting the fuel consumption right. Ground effects means a lot more downforce and that means a different driving technique than a Formula 1 car with a flat bottom and more horsepower. Jaguar qualifies third and fifth on the starting grid. In fourth place, it’s the #10 Kremer Porsche 956 of Manfred Winkelhock and Marc Surer. So, you’ve seen some of the contenders. Now, it is time to race.
The cars come uphill on the rolling start here at Mosport. Green flag, and away we go! It’s a Rothmans Porsche lockout on the front row, but Jaguar is steaming ahead right in their first race in WSC as a factory effort. Martin Brundle makes the getaway and leads the two Rothmans cars of Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass, and also Derek Bell and Hans Stuck. Jaguar makes their return to international racing for the first time in 28 years, since 1957. The cats are roaring right now. Meanwhile, Stuck and Bell hold second place. They want to win here in Canada to increase their lead in the drivers’ championship. That is their goal.
Of course, Jaguar is out to stop them, but it is their first race back in WSC in a long time. As the race progresses we see Martin Brundle falling behind, dropping to second and eventually third. But soon, it is game over for Brundle and team mate Mike Thackwell, with wheel bearing failure. Brundle and Thackwell would join the #52 sister Jaguar XJR6 with Frenchman Jean Louis Schlesser, and they would come back to finish on the podium. So, a better race for Jaguar than first thought. Bell and Stuck led, but hot on their heels were Ickx and Mass. We know this story all too well, and the back and forth competition, the rivalry between the two Rothmans Porsche camps.
The #10 Kremer Porsche is well down the order at the moment, seven laps behind the leaders after a collision with a slower car. They took emergency service in the pit lane to replace a damaged nose. Again, after the maladies with their own car, Mike Thackwell and Martin Brundle went on to join Jean Louis Schlesser to pilot Jaguar XJR6 #52, running third in the overall at the present time. The race is going well. But, there’s bad news coming. 83 laps of the Mosport 1,000 Kilometers (204 miles into the race) have been run so far. We have a tragic incident to report. Your attention, please… there has been an accident. It involves Porsche #10 of Manfred Winkelhock and Marc Surer.
Manfred Winkelhock has crashed, head on into a concrete barrier. He made contact with the right front corner of the Porsche 956 up against the barrier, and the wreck came to rest 50 meters farther up the road. Winkelhock could not free himself from the car. His leg was trapped, hung up probably in the pedal box or on the steering column. The car was absolutely destroyed. The German driver was taken to the infield medical center before being taken to the hospital in Toronto, on a medivac helicopter. He had gone off the road at high speed and slammed head on into the wall. He had massive leg and head injuries. He was knocked out cold in the accident, and died a day later, having never regained consciousness. The popular German driver was dead, at the age of 33. This cast a dark cloud over the rest of the Mosport 1,000 Kilometers. Rest in Peace, Manfred Winkelhock.
After an hour behind the safety car, the race continues. Jaguar is third. Jochen Mass spun off the road, damaging the suspension on the rear of the #1 Rothmans Porsche 962. This was an incident the cameras didn’t pick up until the car is back in the pit lane and the crew is feverishly trying to work on it. Mass was leading, but drops to second because of these repairs. Derek Bell and Hans Stuck in the sister car, assume the lead. They go on to their second consecutive WSC victory in 1985. Gordon Spice and Ray Bellm, again win in the C2 division with their Spice Engineering Tiga Cosworth.
- #2 Bell/Stuck Porsche 962C Rothmans Porsche
- #1 Ickx/Mass Porsche 962C Rothmans Porsche
- #51 Brundle/Thackwell Jaguar XJR-6 Jaguar
It is a sad end with the tragic death of Manfred Winkelhock. Nonetheless, a victory for Porsche, and a great debut for the TWR Jaguar XJR-6’s, cars with a bright future ahead. Here are the driver’s championship standings.
- Derek Bell 82 points
- Hans Stuck 82 points
- Jacky Ickx 66 points
- Jochen Mass 66 points
- Klaus Ludwig 46 points
- Marc Surer 45 points
- Manfred Winkelhock 45 points
Here too, are the team’s championship points, the top three.
- Rothmans Porsche 92 points
- Kremer Porsche Racing 43 points
- Joest Racing 38 points
- Martini Lancia 38 points
Joest and Lancia are tied on 38 points in third and fourth. Neither Joest nor Lancia made the trip to race in Canada.