Three weeks pass, and what a difference. After the heat and sunshine in Spain, the contrast is the cold rain and mist of the Eiffel Mountains of Germany, and the Nurburgring. The once great German speed palace is now a modern autodrome loved by few. 14,000 spectators will be here to see a world class sports car race. This is the third round of the World Sports Car Teams Championship. But, what we are going to see today is a soggy, rain soaked race. It’s absolutely pouring. The cars are lined up in formation behind the Jaguar safety car. Brun are on pole. But, it’s Rothmans Porsche who want the win here on their home track.
We’re underway at the Nurburgring, in a total deluge. Hans Stuck takes the lead into the first turn, while Mike Thackwell is off the road in the Mercedes already. Mauro Baldi has also found himself beached on a curb after spinning off. Stuck, the rainmeister, is sailing away from everyone else as Thierry Boutsen fights off the challenge of Derek Warwick in the Jaguar. Incredibly, this is the first wet race of the 1986 WSC season. Mike Thackwell, despite his earlier off course excursion, is coming to the fore in the Mercedes.
He has pushed the big V8 powered Sauber C8 up to fourth overall. The heavy Swiss car is reveling in these atrocious conditions. Jochen Mass sharing with Bob Wollek in the second #2 Rothmans Porsche 962 finds these conditions to be too wet. However, Thackwell seems to be doing just fine. He’s passed Derek Warwick in the Jaguar, and is now working on catching Thierry Boutsen. But, as they say, catching is one thing, passing is another. Will the grunt of the Mercedes allow Thackwell to make quick work of Boutsen and get around him for the lead? Whoops! Jochen Mass has spun off the road in the aforementioned #2 Porsche. Thankfully, after a spin into the scenery, he’s able to get back in the race without whacking the wall.
Thierry Boutsen, though, the Belgian ace is having no fun, because not only has Mike Thackwell deposed of him, but so has Derek Warwick in the Jaguar. Oh boy! It’s not clear sailing for Warwick either. He slides off the road onto the wet grass and has to restart his quest to catch the Benz. Others follow suit as the rain gets worse, and soon, the Nurburgring is littered with busted up, abandoned Group C cars who have declared it game over and have had their races ruined. Among them, shockingly, the C2 dominating Spice. It might be game over for Gordon Spice and Ray Bellm on this day.
They will come back to finish seventh overall, but with crash damage. Now, the marshals have done the wise thing here, to call out the safety cars. But, be that as it may, there’s yet another carambolage at the first corner. Now, as the safety car crocodile runs off laps, the rain only gets worse and even crawling around the circuit, there’s a traffic jam that is going to cause people to check up, and cause carnage! All the blokes down the order are checking up, and slamming right into each other. Another Group C demolition derby!
The chaps at the back of the field, they can’t see the yellow flags. It’s game over for both James Weaver and Mauro Baldi. Both of them crash. Baldi, was sharing the #14 Liqui Moly Porsche 956 with German Klaus Niedwiedz, and James Weaver was in the #10 Kremer Porsche 962C with former factory Lancia driver, Alessandro Nannini of Italy. Then, it’s disaster for Rothmans Porsche in the spray! Hans Stuck gets a head of steam, and clobbers the back of Jochen Mass at 160 miles an hour! Ker-runch! Both factory Rothmans 962s are destroyed!
No wheels for Stuck, as he’s come to rest while the remainder of the crocodile passes by the mangled wreckage of the factory Porsche. The Rothmans team is wiped out in one fell swoop! Mass and Stuck are two lucky blokes indeed, not to have been hurt in that shemozzle. Marshals have red flagged the motor race. Stuck is still trying to make sense of what happened. He can’t believe what he’s just been through. Stuck says “the Mercedes was behind me, I was going past a car I lapped, and all of a sudden, whoosh! Like a rocket, he just came up on me. Believe me, there was no yellow flag. In the driver’s briefing they said when the safety car is on track, the yellow light is flashing. But there was no yellow flag.” Derek Bell concurs with his co-driver saying “ah, the light was showing, but there was no flag.”
The race is delayed for two hours to clean up the accident, and restarted. At the restart, Mercedes and Jaguar head for the front. The Porsche teams are refusing to race, and claim the track conditions here at the Nurburgring are far too dangerous. It’s Mike Thackwell in the Mercedes, followed by Eddie Cheever in the Jaguar, and the John Fitzpatrick Racing Porsche, car #33 of Fermin Velez and Emilio de Villota. The Mercedes cruises away, while Warwick keeps him in what sight he has. The Porsche teams give an impromptu press conference to explain their actions, and meanwhile, the #53 Jaguar is out of the motor race. This is that Gianfranco Brancatelli, Jan Lammers, Derek Warwick car. Warwick took the lead on a drying track, but the car is out due to a burst oil pipe. The sister #51 Jaguar with Eddie Cheever at the controls, retired earlier on.
That was the car he shared with Hans Heyer and Jean Louis Schlesser. Mercedes then, are the lucky ones, scoring their first sports car racing win in 34 years, since Le Mans, 1952! It’s been a long time coming! Herzliche Gluckwunsche, Mercedes! Mauro Baldi and Klaus Niedzwiedz finish second for Liqui Moly Porsche. It’s a great day for race sponsors Kouros, since they also sponsor the Mercedes. But, it’s a dark weekend for sports car racing because of the atrocious weather and the wrecks in the race. Here are the results.
- #61 Thackwell/Pescarolo Kouros Racing Team Sauber C8 Mercedes
- #14 Baldi/Niedzwiedz Liqui Moly Porsche 956
- #33 de Villota/Velez John Fitzpatrick Racing Porsche 956B
- #9 Lassig/Ballabio/Grohs Obermaier Racing/Topolino Porsche 956
In C2, Ecurie Ecosse win again. David Leslie did not drive in this race. Ray Mallock shared the car with Marc Duez, the Belgian rally and race driver.
#79 Mallock/Duez Ecurie Ecosse C286 Rover
The results of C2:
- #79 Mallock/Duez Ecurie Ecosse C286 Rover
- #74 Lechner/Franzemeier Gebhardt Motorsport Gebhardt JC853 Ford Cosworth
- #70 Bellm/Spice Spice Engineering Spice SE86C Ford Cosworth
- #75 Harrower/Clements ADA Engineering Gebhardt JC843 Ford Cosworth
None of the point leaders finished at Nurburgring. So, the C1 points table remains relatively unchanged, while the championship battle in C2 will come down between ADA and Spice.
- Derek Bell 70 points
- Hans Stuck 70 points
- Derek Warwick 54 points
- Oscar Larrauri 46 points
- Jesus Pareja 46 points
- Eddie Cheever 41 points
- Ray Bellm 81 points
- Gordon Spice 81 points
- Ian Harrower 57 points
- Evan Clements 57 points
- Pasquale Barberio 52 points
- John Winter 43 points
Here are the teams’ championship points.
- Rothmans Porsche 35 points
- Danone Porsche 30 points
- Liqui Moly Porsche 27 points
- Kouros Mercedes 23 points
- Silk Cut Jaguar 20 points
- ADA Engineering 42 points
- Spice Engineering 38 points
- Jens Winther 33 points
- Ecurie Ecosse 30 points
Next up, the Spa 1,000 Kilometers at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium.