The 1986 Group C season would see even greater manufacturer involvement. Up to this point, Porsche has dominated Group C sports car racing competition. Lancia has also been competitive, as we have seen. But now, more brands are joining in on the fun. Jaguar and Mercedes are two of them, and we’ll see more manufacturer participation as the season goes on.
The fifth season of Group C sports car racing commences, at the world renown Autodromo Nazionale di Monza in Monza, Italy. A dozen teams will participate in this, the 1986 World Sports Car Championship for drivers. Privateer teams, are joined, as mentioned, by the might of the factories from Porsche, Jaguar, and Mercedes Benz. The customer Porsche’s are ever stronger and could indeed give the Rothmans factory squad, the dominant force since Group C began, a tough run for their money.
Let’s have a look at the top ten qualifiers for the race at Monza.
- #1 Bell/Stuck Porsche 962 C Rothmans Porsche
- #4 Nannini/de Cesaris Lancia LC2/85 Martini Racing
- #7 Ludwig/Barilla Porsche 956B Joest Racing
- #51 Cheever/Warwick/Schlesser Jaguar XJR6 Silk Cut Jaguar
- #52 Brancatelli/Schlesser Jaguar XJR6 Silk Cut Jaguar
- #61 Nielsen/Pescarolo Sauber C8 Mercedes Kouros Racing Team
- #70 Spice/Bellm Spice SE86C Ford Cosworth Spice Engineering
- #72 Andreason/Cohen-Olivar Chevron B62 Ford Cosworth Chevron Racing with John Bartlett
- #2 Mass/Wollek Porsche 962C Rothmans Porsche
- #8 Winter/Duez Porsche 956B Joest Racing
The full grid has 27 cars. It’s lights out, and away we go! Klaus Ludwig in the Joest Porsche jumps from third into the initial lead, taking the spot away from Andrea de Cesaris in the Lancia. Oh boy. Andrea de Cesaris is not taking that sitting down. He biffs Ludwig, but Ludwig stays in control while Hans Stuck gets around Thierry Boutsen driving the #17 Brun Porsche 962C he is sharing with American Drake Olson in this race. Following are the two Jaguar’s, the Kremer and Brun Porsche’s (the second Brun entry), and the Kouros sponsored factory Mercedes.
Alba leads Group C2 from Gebhardt and Spice. So, three teams are scrapping for C2 honors already as well. Those are our old pals Carlo Facetti and Martino Finotto driving for Alba with their 4 cylinder turbo Carma engine. Klaus Ludwig is pulling away as Lancia, Rothmans Porsche, and Brun Porsche take up the scrap for second spot through the Lesmo chicanes. Three-time Le Mans winner Klaus Ludwig, he is whistling off into the distance. It is a Sunday drive here at Monza for the three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner. Jean Louis Schlesser in the second factory Jaguar wants to race, but he has Hans Stuck, Jaguar team mate Eddie Cheever, Thierry Boutsen, and Andrea de Cesaris to contend with.
Fuel strategy again plays a part this year. 190 liters available for this first ever WSC sprint event for C1 class cars, while the smaller C2s get 120 liters. Mercedes is already starting to show what they can do, against Porsche, with the Henri Pescarolo and John Nielsen driven car, scything through the pack. Joest lead Monza, and this year, they are sponsored by Japanese New Man clothing importers Taka Q. Ludwig has indeed whistled off into the distance. As we’ve mentioned, twice this car has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Meanwhile, down the front straightaway, it’s a drag race between Eddie Cheever and Andrea de Cesaris!
The twin turbo Ferrari V8 powered Lancia seems to have the legs over the normally aspirated Jaguar down the long Monza front straight. Jaguar’s are running their bigger 6.5 liter V12 engines here at Monza. No wonder the Lancia runs out of steam a little bit. The factory Porsche’s trying a new semi-automatic PDK transmission this year. Hans Stuck is in second place overall at the moment. It’s an inter-team battle at Brun Motorsport. Thierry Boutsen passes Oscar Larrauri for fifth spot, and the Belgian says, “arriva derci” to his Argentinian team mate. Gordon Spice and Carlo Facetti in C2, have been overtaken by the Gebhardt Ford Cosworth, Frank Jelinski at the wheel of it. The German, is sharing with Sweden’s Stanley Dickens. In fifth spot, another newcomer to Group C. This is the Norwegian rally cross ace Martin Schanche at the wheel of the #89 Argo Zakspeed he owns.
Schanche shares the car, with fellow Norwegian driver Birger Dyrstad. The Zakspeed engine is a 1.8 liter 4 cylinder with a single turbo on it. Pit stop time for fuel, and a driver change. Only one pit stop required in this race. Joest Porsche, into the lane from the lead and so are Rothmans Porsche. Paolo Barilla takes over the Joest entered car. Hans Stuck hands the Rothmans Porsche to team mate and world champion Derek Bell. They maintain second place in the race. The gap between Bell and Barilla is closing as the race has been going on now for 55 minutes. Alessandro Nannini has third for Lancia and is coming up to put a lap on the new Sauber Mercedes of Henri Pescarolo.
Joest Porsche are in trouble. Paolo Barilla has a clutch issue with the car. It’s game over for Barilla and Ludwig, as the transmission is cooked. The Italian forlornly parks the Porsche in the pit lane. Barilla’s misfortune is now Derek Bell’s opportunity as he races by and into the lead here at Monza. Paolo Barilla, dejected, walks away from the car, but the Italian crowd applauds his valiant effort. So now, this race will see a sure victory for Derek Bell, Hans Stuck, and Rothmans Porsche. The Italians will still have something to cheer about as Lancia will come home in second spot.
At the end of the race, we find out that mechanical gremlins struck at Jaguar. Cheever and Warwick retired from the motor race with a busted driveshaft. But, it’s victory for Porsche, Derek Bell, and Hans Stuck! To compound Jaguar’s woes, the sister car, the Schlesser/Brancatelli machine, ran out of gas. Alessandro Nannini and Andrea de Cesaris for Lancia, finish second, just ten seconds in-arrears of the Porsche. Group C2 honors go to Gebhardt, and their drivers Frank Jelinski, and Stanley Dickens. Victory for the old firm of Stuck, Bell, and Rothmans Porsche. The start of 1986, mirrors the end of 1985. Here are the results of the Monza Super Sprint.
- #2 Stuck/Bell Rothmans Porsche 962C
- #4 de Cesaris/Nannini Martini Lancia LC2-86
- #19 Sigala/Brun Brun/FAT Porsche 956
- #18 Larrauri/Pareja Brun/Fortuna Porsche 956
- #17 Olson/Boutsen Brun/Torno Porsche 962C
- #1 Mass/Wollek Rothmans Porsche 962
- #9 Ballabio/Hamann Obermaier Porsche 956
- #10 Gartner/Niedwiedz Kremer Porsche 962C
- #61 Pescarolo/Nielsen Kouros Racing Sauber C8 Mercedes
- #33 de Villota/Velez Danone John Fitzpatrick Racing Porsche 956
Gebhardt, with the aforementioned win by Dickens/Jelinski, earn their first C2 triumph in two years. Spice Engineering and Martin Schanche’s Argo team are also on the podium.
- #74 Jelinski/Dickens Gebhardt Motorsport Gebhardt JC853 Ford Cosworth
- #70 Spice/Bellm Spice Engineering Spice SE86C Ford Cosworth
- #89 Schanche/Dyrstad Martin Schanche Racing Argo JM19 Zakspeed
- #105 Barberio/Frey Kelmar Racing Spice Tiga GC85 Ford Cosworth