The weather is better, as we return to Spa Francorchamps in the Ardennes forest of Belgium, although three days of rain preceded the racing action. Thierry Boutsen, is once again, your pole sitter for this race. He and Frank Jelinski are running the car as #17 this weekend. This is Brun Motorsport’s third pole in a row, a tribute to their much missed driver, Stefan Bellof, who died here at Spa, in 1985 in that horrifying accident in Eau Rouge. The Spa 1,000 Kilometers could be the race of the year. Qualifying has never been closer. Rothmans Porsche are rebuilt after the Nurburgring fracas, and we’re set to race at Spa. It’s green flag, and we’re off and racing!
The huge field of 33 cars pours into Eau Rouge for the first time. Thierry Boutsen leads on his home track followed by Derek Bell, Eddie Cheever, Jochen Mass, Derek Warwick, and Mauro Baldi. Alba leads C2 with the #83 Luigi Taverna Techno Racing Alba AR3 Ford Cosworth out front. Former Lancia driver Piercarlo Ghinzani is at the controls, sharing with fellow Italian’s Luigi Taverna (the car and team owner), and Gianpiero Lauro. Tiga, Spice, and Ecosse follow in the C2 division.
Up the hill they go, on the Kemmel straightaway for the first time. Derek Bell goes for a pass for the lead. Boutsen slams the door in his face, fending him off. Jochen Mass in the sister Rothmans Porsche gets by Eddie Cheever’s Jaguar. Jaguar is not having the race they want, as Mauro Baldi also passes Derek Warwick. Alba remains the C2 leader. Through the Bus Stop chicane (a corner that has been heavily reconfigured over the last few years), it is Brun Porsche, Rothmans Porsche, Liqui Moly Porsche, 1-2-3. The 15,000 fans in attendance at Spa love this.
This is the best drive we’ve seen from Derek Bell all year. Seven cars are absolutely glued together on this legendary race course, which used to be some eight miles long. Mauro Baldi goes for third passing Jochen Mass and does so. The scrap at the front is still steaming along. Bell, determined to pass Boutsen. Now, this could be a three way battle as Mauro Baldi begins to close up ever so slightly, sharing the Liqui Moly Porsche with James Weaver. Baldi finally makes it past Derek Bell. Even a four-time Le Mans winner is no match for the little Italian. He’s flying!
It’s a replay of Brands Hatch. Mauro Baldi has taken the lead away from Thierry Boutsen, and Boutsen will have to be content to run second for a bit. Eddie Cheever powers the V12 Jaguar through the daunting Eau Rouge. What a lovely engine note from the V12! Baldi is in the pit lane for his first scheduled stop, and this hands the lead back to Thierry Boutsen. To the Richard Lloyd team’s horror, there is no fuel coming from the gantry above their pit box. Something is wrong with the gravity feed fuel system. Team manager Keith Green rushes to free the jammed fuel meter.
All of Baldi’s hard scrapping to gain places, is for naught, as Boutsen’s lead has ballooned to quite the margin. The #2 Rothmans Porsche is second, now with Hans Stuck at the wheel of it, replacing Derek Bell for this stint. The fight is on all through the field, as Oscar Larrauri nearly barges Mike Thackwell’s Mercedes out of the way. Boutsen is in the pit lane for service, but will do a double stint, choosing not to hand over to Frank Jelinski. This hands a brief lead to Hans Stuck. Boutsen flies out of pit lane, in hot pursuit of the Rothmans Porsche while Derek Warwick holds third in the Jaguar.
Soon, the Brun Porsche is back in front, Boutsen about to pit. Now, he does, and hands the car to the young German, Frank Jelinski for the next stint. Hans Stuck retakes the race lead. Klaus Ludwig and Paolo Barilla driving the Blaupunkt Autohifi Joest Racing Porsche 956B are now in second. Derek Warwick remains third, while the sister #51 Jaguar of Cheever and Jean Louis Schlesser is slowed by punctured tires. Jelinski remains in the lead, in front of a quality, competitive field here at Spa.
Ludwig leads the Warwick/Lammers Jaguar, ahead of the Stuck/Bell Porsche. Jelinski consolidates his lead and keeps right on top of the fuel schedule, to a T. In the meantime, there’s a scrap for third as Jan Lammers wants by Klaus Ludwig. The rapid Dutchman, hounding the German. Eddie Cheever is fifth in the sister Jaguar. Henri Pescarolo and Mike Thackwell are in sixth place, giving a good run for Mercedes, and of course this is the car and driver lineup that won the most recent race at the Nurburgring.
Oh dear! Another tire lets go for Jean Louis Schlesser. He is in the lane and the Jaguar mechanics tend to the car and the flattened tire. Thierry Boutsen catches up on Henri Pescarolo, catching the four-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner completely off guard, and Pescarolo indulges in a bit of autocross through the Bus Stop. But, he keeps on going, the big V8 in the back of the Mercedes thundering once again. Derek Warwick takes over the #51 jaguar but is held in pit lane by the marshals. Derek Bell makes a scheduled stop in the Rothmans Porsche, car #1. However, the PDK gearbox has trouble selecting a forward gear so Bell can exit the lane.
Co-driver Hans Stuck has a funny quote about that whole situation. “Derek (Bell) is now world champion in backwards driving!” We are into the final minutes and laps of this enthralling six hour motor race at Spa Francorchamps with Thierry Boutsen, the Belgian still leading. Derek Bell remains second despite having to throw the Porsche in reverse after his pit stop, but Derek Warwick is closing all the time. The top three are covered by a blanket after nearly six hours of hard racing. Warwick is inspired, passing Bell down the mountain through Malmedy, Stavelot, and Pouhon. Just two laps remain in the race!
Bell’s Porsche is running out of fuel. He could be on fumes. Boutsen takes the Jaguar on the inside through the Bus Stop on the penultimate lap! Only one lap remains of this fabulous Spa Francorchamps track. It truly is one of the palaces of speed in Europe along with Monza, Le Mans, Brands Hatch and so many more. Boutsen is coming out of the La Source hairpin onto the main straight with Warwick charging, 100 meters behind! Who will it be, as we begin the final lap? Place your bets now, ladies and gentlemen. Will it be Boutsen and Porsche? Will it be Warwick and Jaguar?
Ten seconds. The margin is closing. Five seconds. Through the Bus Stop for the final time and Thierry Boutsen has a problem! He’s now on fumes. Will there be enough left in the tank to get him home? He has just yards to go before the checkered flag! Warwick makes one last bold move! Will it be enough? Who’s going to win the Spa 1,000 Kilometers? Man oh man! Out of La Source for the final time, and both the Porsche and the Jaguar have run completely dry. No more fuel in either of their tanks! Who is going to coast across the line first? Boutsen makes it! He’s just 8/10ths of a second ahead of Warwick, the closest finish in World Sports Car Championship history, second only, probably to the 1969 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Boutsen wins at home. Jelinski wins recognition. The German driver is now on the map. Sports car team owners in Europe, and the U.S., look for this guy. He’s a quick one. Here are the results.
- #17 Boutsen/Jelinski Jagermeister Brun Motorsport Porsche 962C
- #52 Warwick/Lammers Silk Cut Jaguar XJR6
- #1 Bell/Stuck Rothmans Porsche 962C
- #7 Ludwig/Barilla Blaupunkt Autohifi Joest Porsche 956
- #51 Cheever/Schlesser Silk Cut Jaguar XJR6
- #61 Thackwell/Pescarolo Kouros Racing Sauber C8 Mercedes
Ecurie Ecosse wins again in C2 taking the hat trick, their third consecutive win, with Ray Mallock and Marc Duez.
- #79 Mallock/Duez Ecurie Ecosse Ecosse C286 Rover
- #70 Spice/Bellm Spice Engineering Spice SE86C Ford Cosworth
- #75 Harrower/Clements D.A. Enginering Gebhardt JC843 Ford Cosworth
Here are the points with just one race to go in the season.
- Derek Bell 82 points
- Hans Stuck 82 points
- Derek Warwick 69 points
- Frank Jelinski 59 points
- Eddie Cheever 49 points
- Oscar Larrauri 46 points
- Jesus Pareja 46 points
Here are the teams’ points.
- Rothmans Porsche 47 points
- Brun Motorsport 37 points
- Silk Cut Jaguar Team 35 points
- Danone Porsche 30 points
- Kouros Mercedes 29 points
- Liqui Moly Equipe 28 points
- Joest Racing 28 points
Here are the points for the C2 teams as Gordon Spice and Ray Bellm are again C2 driver’s champions.
- ADA Engineering 54 points
- Spice Engineering 53 points
- Ecurie Ecosse 50 points
One race left in 1986, and only Derek Warwick can beat Derek Bell to the drivers’ championship. It’s going to come down to the wire at the Fuji 1,000 Kilometers in Fuji, Japan.